Shortage of CPR skills across Sussex and South East, charity warns

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A shortage of CPR skills and awareness in Sussex and the South East is putting lives at risk, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) warns.

Just 38 per cent of people in the region would be confident of performing immediate CPR if someone collapsed in front of them putting lives at risk, it said.

Performing immediate CPR can in some cases double a person’s chance of survival, but with less than half (48 per cent) of people in the South East trained in CPR, there is a shortage of skills and awareness that is putting lives at risk.

The BHF says people are reluctant to perform CPR because they are unsure whether a person has experienced a cardiac arrest, they lack training and confidence, and they fear causing more harm than good.

A survey of people in the region found 63 per cent of people would be worried about knowing what to do if someone collapsed from a cardiac arrest in front of them, 61 per cent of these people said that they would worry about making things worse by trying to help, 39 per cent admitted they would feel helpless, and only 18 per cent of people could correctly identify the signs of cardiac arrest.

Research funded by the charity has found that bystanders who witness a cardiac arrest perform CPR in only four out of 10 cases across England. This compares with much higher bystander intervention rates of more than seven in ten (73 per cent) in Norway.

To improve survival rates and train more people in CPR, the BHF launched its Mission CPR campaign yesterday (Friday, October 16) that saw thousands of schoolchildren learn CPR on the day.

Mission CPR is part of the BHF’s Nation of Lifesavers campaign which aims to equip all young people and adults with the CPR skills to save a life.

Since its launch one year ago, more than 1,300 schools across the UK have been given free CPR training kits by the BHF to teach young people how to save a life.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “It is worrying that so few people in the South East would feel confident to perform CPR if someone collapsed with a cardiac arrest in front of them.

“When someone has a cardiac arrest, every second counts, and immediate CPR can double their chance of survival in some cases.

“Thousands of people still lack these skills and we know that many more lives in the South East could be saved if more people felt confident and able to intervene. We need as many people as possible to learn CPR and become a potential life saver.”

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