Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today met pupils from St Louise’s Comprehensive College, Belfast, who are taking part in ‘Restart a Heart’ Day.
Restart a Heart Day is an initiative by the European Resuscitation Council aimed at introducing young people to the skills required to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
The Ambulance Service is leading the initiative in collaboration with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and other partners including HSC Trusts, relevant charities and Voluntary Ambulance Services.
Minister O’Neill said: “Each year in the north of Ireland approximately 1,400 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital environment and sadly fewer than 10% of these people survive to be discharged from hospital".
“There are two interventions that are literally vital when someone suffers a cardiac arrest: the immediate need is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), followed by early defibrillation. These critical interventions can keep someone alive until professional help arrives.”
The Minister concluded: “I very much welcome the efforts being made by the Ambulance Service to increase the numbers of trained individuals who can respond to a cardiac arrest. Survival is known to be higher in those incidents where a bystander has initiated CPR.
“I would strongly encourage everyone to take the time to learn CPR. You would be surprised how uncomplicated it is and you never know the moment when you may need it.
“People should not fear getting involved in resuscitation as, without it, the patient, perhaps a family member, may die.”
Events are being held throughout the day in Belfast, Lisburn, Magherafelt, Newtownabbey, Newry, Bangor and Ballymena.
Highlighting the importance of early CPR in the ‘Chain of Survival’, Doctor David McManus, Interim Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service said: “Once cardiac arrest has been identified 999 should be called immediately. Trained Ambulance Service staff will provide advice and CPR instruction while paramedic help is on its way.
“The single most important early intervention is CPR. Hands (compression) only CPR has proven to be effective in increasing the survival rate of the patient.
“CPR helps maintain blood and oxygen flow through the body until such times as a defibrillator or paramedic help is brought to the patient.
“This initiative is aimed at providing young people with the skills and confidence to perform CPR in their communities. This will save lives and anyone can do it.”