When someone suffers a cardiac arrest it means
that blood is no longer being pumped around their body and they are
clinically dead. The longer they go without basic life-support, the
harder it is to restart their heart. That’s where you can make a
If you learn basic life-support you will be
able to help restart someone’s heart when they suffer a cardiac
arrest. Whether you’re on the street, in someone’s house or in an
airport, basic life-support can help you to save lives.
Emergency life-support training courses
Find out more about the resuscitation
training or contact Antoinette Williamson in our
resuscitation training team.
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The chain of survival
There are five steps to saving someone’s life.
These are known as the chain of survival.
1. Early recognition
- It’s important to be able to recognise the symptoms of cardiac
- Someone will collapse, stop breathing and start turning
2. Early access
- If you recognise the symptoms of cardiac arrest in
someone you need to call 999 for an ambulance immediately, even
before you start to help the patient yourself.
- If there are other people around, ask them to call the
ambulance while you care for the patient.
3. Early basic life-support
- Doing good-quality chest compressions on someone who is in
cardiac arrest keeps blood pumping around the body, until an
- Giving the ‘kiss of life’ helps to keep oxygen in the
blood. This process is called cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR),
and it will give someone in cardiac arrest the best possible chance
4. Early defibrillation
- A defibrillator, or ‘shock-box’, is a machine used to give
an electric shock to a patient's heart, when they are in
cardiac arrest. The electric shock makes the heart start beating
again. It should be used as quickly as possible if someone is in
- Every one of our vehicles carries a defibrillator, and
there are also over 450 in public places in London that can be used
by trained staff while an ambulance is on the way.
5. Early advanced life-support
- When ambulance staff arrive at a cardiac arrest patient they
will continue resuscitating them using specialist skills and
equipment, before taking them to hospital.
- It’s important to call an ambulance immediately if you see
someone in cardiac arrest, so that they can receive this advanced