Resuscitation and defibrillation

Helen Till, a retired clinical nurse, now has a new role as a resuscitation officer in the hospital environment.

She mentioned that in the UK every year, 30,000 cases of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occur.

  • Survival rate is less than one in ten
  • Death is inevitable unless SCA recognised promptly, CPR commended and defibrillation performed


  • What is a cardiac arrest?  The heart has stopped pumping blood to the body and brain, the person will fall unconscious and stop breathing.  Without CPR the person will die within minutes
  • How does CPR help?   By performing chest compressions (and rescue breaths) this pumps blood and oxygen around the body.
  • Is a cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?  No – they are not the same – a heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest but both are medical emergencies and it is necessary to call 999

Most SCA cases are due to abnormal heart rhythm.  The major factor limiting survival is that SCA and AED (defibrillator) are used within the critical time (conditions are optimal only for a few minutes after the onset but can be extended by effective CPR.

Defibrillation helps by delivering a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall  and chest compressions also help.

Survival of an SCA is positively associated with:

  • Witness collapse
  • Early CPR by bystanders
  • Presence of shockable rhythm
  • Short time from collapse to start of CPR
  • Short time from collapse to AED

Do CPR until ambulance arrives.

Helen demonstrated on a mannekin how to apply CPR and use a defibrillator. The AED, when activated, gave recorded instruction at every step.  It told how and where to place the pads which had to be applied to bare skin.

Members of the club volunteered to perform the technique on the mannekin and were amazed at how much effort was required to do the CPR.

There were multiple questions from the floor and Helen answered them all.  She was thanked for her invaluable talk and demonstrations.