Research undertaken by St John shows there is a 13% chance of survival from a cardiac arrest outside of hospital.

Each year St John publishes its Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Report and this year’s study reveals that while survival rates remain constant, there is much more we can do to save lives.

Each day in New Zealand St John treats approximately five people for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, and in 76% of cases a bystander starts CPR, but an AED (automated external defibrillator) is only used 4% of the time.

St John Medical Director Dr Tony Smith says these statistics show that while New Zealanders are becoming aware of the importance of CPR, not only are more AEDs needed in local communities, but the public needs to be comfortable using them.

“Anyone can use an AED; all you need to do is turn it on and follow the simple instructions. Know where the AEDs are in your area, for example via the AED locations website, and have the confidence to use one. For every minute that goes by without CPR or using an AED the chance of survival drops by 10-15%.”

“More AEDs are needed in remote and deprived areas as these are the people more likely to have a cardiac arrest but less likely to survive.”

The report shows community defibrillation can improve cardiac arrest survival by over 35% and St John is working with community partners, such as ASB, to get AEDs into remote communities, including marae, to help address this inequity.

Dr Smith explains that there are many factors that go into cardiac arrest survival.

“The chain of survival starts from the bystander recognising someone is in cardiac arrest, calling an ambulance, starting CPR and using an AED, and continues with treatment on scene by skilled ambulance officers, through to arrival at hospital and ongoing treatment by hospital clinicians.”

Dr Smith says more work and resourcing is needed in order for St John to improve cardiac arrest survival statistics to a similar level of comparable ambulance services internationally.

“St John’s clinical processes continue to be of a high standard but without greater funding and resources we are unable to make the same improvements as other services. We want to establish more complex clinical training and auditing of each cardiac arrest, improve technology and equipment and, significantly, implement the Global Resuscitation Alliance 10 steps to improving outcomes for New Zealand.”

 “Nonetheless the message is clear, if someone is in cardiac arrest, call an ambulance (111), start CPR and use an AED.”

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