Irish Heart Foundation: First responders continued to save lives in 2021

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In 2021 there were 2,906 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests where resuscitation was attempted.

Latest figures show that first responders defibrillated 198 patients who suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest last year of whom 54 survived, highlighting the valuable life-saving work of these community groups.

According to the 2021 annual report of the Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Register (OHCAR) which was published recently by the National Ambulance Service, of all patients who survived an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest last year 54 or 30.3 per cent resulted from the use of a defibrillator by a non-emergency medicine specialist.

First Responders can include members of the general public, off-duty healthcare workers, members of Community First Responder groups, Local Authority Fire Services, voluntary organisations (such as the Irish Red Cross, Order of Malta, St. John Ambulance, and the Irish Coast Guard), auxiliary services such as Civil Defence and members of An Garda Síochána.

Overall, in 2021 there were 2,906 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests where resuscitation was attempted.

Of the 2,906 patients, 67 per cent were male and the median age was 67 however, patients ranged in age from less than one year to 100 years of age. Women who suffered a cardiac arrest were on average older by 4 years than men (70 years vs. 66) and the majority or 74 per cent of all cardiac arrests happened in the home.

The level of bystander CPR, where someone who has witnessed or comes across a cardiac arrest and steps in to provide CPR, remained high at 85 per cent. Furthermore 6.7 per cent of patients had defibrillation attempted before the arrival of the emergency services and 16 per cent had sustained return of spontaneous circulation (SROSC) (heart began beating again) before they arrived at hospital.

Of the 2,906 people who suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest where resuscitation was attempted, 178 survived to leave hospital alive, according to the report.

Professor Conor Deasy, Chair of the OHCAR said, “First Responders include a wide range of trained volunteers, both lay and health care professionals who encounter an emergency and are prepared to provide care. In each of these groups, recognition of the patient being collapsed and in cardiac arrest, willingness to deliver chest compressions and ideally access to an AED can make all the difference.”

“First Responders defibrillated 198 patients, of whom 54 survived (27.8%). This achievement emphasises the importance of these groups of responders and provides valuable evidence for their impact within the community.”

The OHCAR is hosted and funded by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and aims to improve outcomes in Ireland by continuous performance measurement and feedback to service providers and the broader community.

The Register in Ireland provides an evidence-based means of quality assuring and quality improving the care provided in this extreme emergency by ambulance services in Ireland.

Highlighting the role of Community First Responders, Robert Morton, Director of National Ambulance Service, said, “Community First Responders and other First Responders play a very important role in supporting the delivery of prehospital emergency care in local communities.”

“In particular Community First Responders are an integral part of dealing with an emergency in the community in that they provide vital lifesaving CPR and defibrillator treatment to patients while an ambulance is on route.”

At the Irish Heart Foundation one of our key goals is to help save lives from cardiac arrest through CPR training. The more people who know CPR the more lives we can save. Learn to save a life by finding the right CPR course for you.

General Info

Date Entered/Updated
19th Oct, 2022
Expiry Date
30th Nov, 2022