More survive cardiac arrests with help of Good Samaritans



The number of patients surviving out-of-hospital cardiac arrests has reached a record high, it was revealed today.

Statistics released by the London Ambulance Service show 419 people survived last year — 10.8 per cent of the 3,876 patients whose hearts were restarted at the scene.

The figure was up on the 9.4 per cent a year earlier.

Good Samaritans attempted CPR on 2,166 patients, 265 fewer than the previous year, but the second highest rate on record. In 101 cases, publicly available defibrillators were used.


Among survivors was a pastor who suffered a cardiac arrest as he prayed in church. He was aided by members of his congregation who gave CPR chest compressions.

Trevor Brown, 53, collapsed suddenly at Liberty Christian Ministries in Norbury last September. His heart stopped for eight minutes. 

Five parishioners with medical training joined Mr Brown’s wife, Anne-Marie Brown, also trained in first aid, in administering CPR until paramedics arrived and used a defibrillator to shock him back to life.

“I’m quite thankful not just that they were there but that they switched into their professional role in seconds,” she told the Standard.

“There was no panicking. They just got in a line and started CPR one by one, less than a minute after it happened. For me, that was the highlight.

“I had to see him as a patient rather than as my husband otherwise it would have been difficult for me to do.”

He was taken to Croydon hospital, where he stayed for three weeks. He had an implantable electronic device fitted to shock his heart if it stops beating again.

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Mrs Brown, who used to be a maternity support worker, said: “He did say to me afterwards that he felt a bit light-headed. The next thing he saw was the paramedics. He is absolutely fine now.”

LAS crews attended 10,152 cardiac arrests in 2018-19. Of these, resuscitation was attempted in 39 per cent of cases, or 4,004 patients, down 385 on the previous year. Patients not resuscitated were deceased on arrival of paramedics, had a “do not resuscitate” order or death was expected.

Dr Fenella Wrigley, LAS chief medical officer, praised the public for helping to save lives.

She said: “The key to a patient surviving a cardiac arrest is for them to receive basic life support as quickly as possible, including chest compressions and the use of a defibrillator. I also really want to emphasise that members of the public can never do a patient any harm by using a defibrillator — it simply assesses the patient’s heart rhythm and will only deliver a shock if it is needed. 

“When you use a defibrillator you are only ever improving that person’s chances of survival.” 

To attend an LAS Teach The Beat: Restart A Heart training session, email: defib@londonambulance.nhs.uk



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