How CFRs save lives

CFR Vehicle

Dr Richard Cummins from Seattle, USA discovered that if a series of events took place in a set sequence, a heart attack victim has a greater chance of survival. These events are known as “the chain of survival”.

Chain of survival

  • Early access. The sooner 999 is dialled, the sooner treatment can commence. Whilst CPR is important, early treatment with a defibrillator and Advanced Life Support are crucial in survival and therefore the sooner 999 is dialled, the better.
  • Early CPR. CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) attempts to keep the casualty oxygenated until more advanced treatment is available. Breathing for the casualty provides Oxygen into the lungs (and thence into the bloodstream). Chest compressions then circulate the oxygen-enriched blood around the body to where it is required. CPR on its own will not restart a heart. However, it will buy some time until a defibrillator arrives.
  • Early Defibrillation. When a heart initially stops following a heart attack, it actually enters an uncontrolled state where electrical activity is buzzing around randomly rather that the ordered activity found in normal operation. A defibrillator applies an electrical shock to the heart which momentarily stops it. The heart has an inbuilt pacemaker and following the shock, it will attempt to re-establish control of the heart and start beating regularly.
  • Early ALS (Advanced Life Support). Treatment with drugs such as Adrenaline and with fluids in the case of severe blood loss will all assist in treatment. The sooner these are applied, the better the chance of survival.

In cases of cardiac arrest, for every minute that passes without cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation, a patient’s chances of survival decrease by 14%. Because Community First Responders (CFRs), answer calls in their own neighbourhoods the potential for them to arrive on scene before an ambulance, especially in rural areas, is vital in providing immediate life-saving treatment. These extra minutes do help to save lives.

Chances of survival from cardiac arrest