Last year, Devon Air Ambulance crews attended 333 patients who were suffering a cardiac arrest and this year they have so far attended 118 more patients whose heart had stopped beating. Cardiac arrest is the most common reason for the emergency medical team to be called to help.

As part of the charity’s ‘Help with all your Heart’ campaign Devon Air Ambulance launched a public survey to find out how people felt about helping someone in cardiac arrest and what might stop them stepping in to help. Almost two thirds of respondents said they would be willing to step in and help, but felt they were lacking two vital elements that would enable them to do so: knowledge and confidence.

The Devon Air Ambulance team set about planning a set of five CPR & defibrillator training days across Devon, designed to combat these barriers. Several clinical crew-led sessions were made available throughout the day which include a presentation, support for the audience in distinguishing the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, as well as a hands-on learning about how to do effective CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

The first two days were held in Bideford and Totnes and were attended by over 120 people. The sessions were delivered by two Devon Air Ambulance Specialist Paramedics in Critical Care who have first-hand experience of dealing with patients suffering from cardiac related problems every day. The crew also welcomed questions from those assembled and were pleased to dispel any myths and concerns.

Ginette Gisborne, Communications Manager at Devon Air Ambulance, said:

We are incredibly pleased to be able to deliver the first two of our five CPR and Defib training days. The feedback from those who have attended so far has been fantastic and we are thrilled that so many people have left the session feeling much more knowledgeable about cardiac arrest and, importantly, that they now feel they have the confidence to step in and help someone suffering a cardiac arrest before specialist medical help arrives. Statistics show that a staggering 75% of cardiac arrests happen at home, so I would encourage people to join us if they can, so they can feel prepared and gain the extra knowledge and the confidence to help to save a life.

‘I would like to thank all of the training venues who have kindly donated the use of their premises free of charge, saving vital funds being spent on room hire; Bideford Pannier Market, Totnes Royal Seven Stars Hotel, the Totnes Rotary Club, Culm Vally Sports Centre, Ivybridge Rugby Football Club and Future Bodies Gym in Okehampton.’

The next DAA training days are to be held at Cullompton on Tuesday 31st May, Ivybridge on Thursday 9th June and Okehampton on Thursday 23rd June. Find more details and to book your place.