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Two-thirds of NI public lack basic CPR skills

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 16/10/2015

Only a third of people in Northern Ireland would be confident in performing life-saving CPR if they witnessed a person suffering a cardiac arrest, a leading heart charity has warned.

The research, carried out by British Heart Foundation (BHF) Northern Ireland, revealed that 66% said they would be worried about knowing what to do if someone collapsed in front of them after their heart stopped.

Other key findings of the study carried out by researchers at University of Warwick showed that 59% said they feared they would make things worse by helping and only 18% of people were able to identify the signs that someone had suffered a cardiac arrest.

This compares with intervention rates of up to three quarters (73%) in Norway, where survival rates are up to three times as high.

Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person's chance of survival by around 10%. With around 1,400 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Northern Ireland every year, but less than one in 10 surviving, the charity warns that the failure by bystanders to intervene is costing lives every day.

If survival rates improved to match those in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, an additional 5,000 lives could be saved every year in the UK.

BHF NI is launching its 'Mission CPR' campaign, that will see thousands of schoolchildren learn CPR.

Jayne Murray, Head of BHF NI said when someone collapses after a cardiac arrest, every second counts.

"Knowing simple, CPR skills is vital to ensure that every person has the best chance of survival. It is therefore a huge concern that so few people have the skills and confidence to perform CPR and this is undoubtedly costing lives."

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