In the South West alone each year, resuscitation attempts are made on over 3,000 patients following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).  

Over 75% of patients experiencing a cardiac arrest collapse at home. This means you are more likely to need to help a friend or family member than a complete stranger. Taking a few moments to think what you would do in the event of a cardiac arrest could save the life of someone close to you.

Plan Ahead

Do you know what to do if the unexpected happened to a friend or family member in your home?

Where is your nearest defibrillator that is needed in case of a cardiac arrest?

Together we can save lives by:

  1. Recognising Cardiac Arrest
  2. Calling 999 For Help
  3. Starting CPR
  4. Using a Public Access Defibrillator

1. How to Recognise a Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrests can happen without warning. If someone is in cardiac arrest they may have collapsed suddenly and:

  • Will be unconscious
  • Won't be breathing normally (either making gasping noises or not breathing at all)

Without immediate lifesaving treatment, a person will die. If you believe a person is experiencing cardiac arrest phone 999 (using speaker phone if possible) and immediately start CPR.

Did You Know? A cardiac arrest is a medical emergency where the heart stops beating effectively. When this happens, blood stops pumping around the body causing the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing normally. Many cardiac arrests occur because of a heart attack, however, a heart attack is not the same as a cardiac arrest. A heart attack is when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked and the heart’s blood supply is stopped, which could lead to a cardiac arrest.

2. Calling 999 for Help

Keep a note of your address, postcode or What3Words location near a phone to save seconds in an emergency.

In a medical emergency call an ambulance by dialling 999 or 112.

Try to have the following information available when you call:

  1. The location where you are, including the area or postcode.
  2. The phone number you are calling from.
  3. Exactly what has happened.

As soon as the ambulance service know where you are they will start arranging help for you.

It is a good idea to download the What3Words app. This free app converts your location into a unique three word address that can be used to help find you if you are in an emergency.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, you can contact the ambulance service by texting from your mobile. This facility is available in any type of emergency and is for people who can’t use the standard 999 voice or the RNID’s text relay services. To use the text service you must register your mobile phone on the emergency SMS website.

3. Starting CPR

Learning CPR takes just a few minutes and could help save the life of a friend or loved one.

If you see someone collapsed and not breathing normally, you need to start CPR to keep the patient alive until help arrives. Emergency Medical Dispatchers will help you with this when you call 999.

It takes a few minutes to learn CPR to help save a life, follow the links below to access content from the British Heart Foundation and the Resuscitation Council (UK) to learn more in just 15 minutes.

4. Using a Public Access Defibrillator

Discover where the nearest defibrillator is to your home. This could help save crucial time if you need one in an emergency.

A defibrillator gives a jolt of energy to the heart, which can help restore the heart’s rhythm, and get it beating normally again. This simple piece of equipment is easy to use and doesn’t require training, but it could make the difference between life and death.

Public access defibrillators can be used by anyone. When you switch the device on, it will provide clear instructions telling you what you need to do. A defibrillator will not harm the person suffering a cardiac arrest and will only give them a shock if it is needed. There's no reason to feel nervous about using a defibrillator - just follow its simple instructions and you may be able to save a life.

It’s really important that everyone can access a defibrillator in an emergency. Find your nearest device before you need it by looking at the British Heart Foundation’s Defibfinder.

Downloadable Resources

Download and fill out the 'Help Save a Life' poster or the 'Plan Ahead' postcard. Keep this in your own home or use it with the details of where you are spending your summer holidays.

It is a good idea if you are an employer or own a holiday home, caravan/camping site, Airbnb or hotel, to print this out and fill in the details of your location, in advance, for your guests. By hanging the poster displayed in an accessible location, you're helping to save lives this summer.

Plan Ahead postcard

Help Save a Life poster

SWASFT Saving Lives Together Plan Ahead Postcard

SWASFT Help Save a Life Poster

Download postcard Download poster

Air Ambulance Partnership

Saving Lives Together is being supported by the region’s air ambulance charities. In 2021, around one in every three call outs for an air ambulance team in the South West was to someone experiencing a cardiac arrest.