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Croydon shopping centres receive life-saving equipment and training

Croydon’s shoppers can now be assured of receiving the very best life-saving treatment, following the installation of defibrillators, which deliver a shock to restart a patient’s heart.

The London Ambulance Service has installed automated external defibrillators at Centrale and Whitgift shopping centres. They are used on patients who suffer cardiac arrests and save hundreds of lives every year.

The Service’s Community Defibrillation Trainer Martin Bullock has trained security staff at the centres to use the equipment. He said: “With a cardiac arrest every second counts. When a person’s heart stops there is limited time in which to deliver a shock, and after that time has passed there is little chance of survival. Having people at the shopping centres who can use defibrillators will greatly improve patients’ chances of survival. The staff I have trained realise that learning how to use the equipment is extremely important and we are delighted with the commitment they have shown.”

The Service receives over 38,000 calls each year to people suffering from chest pain, one of the main signs of a heart attack. These calls are often to public places such as shopping centres, train stations, airports, tourist venues and workplaces.

The installation of defibrillators in the Croydon shopping centres is a part of the Service’s ongoing scheme to make more of this public-access life-saving equipment available in the capital. The Service is currently responsible for over 400 public-access defibrillators, and this is just part of the hard work of ambulance staff that has meant the number of people surviving cardiac arrests in the capital has trebled in the last five years. Last year in London just under one in six people (15.8 per cent)* who suffered an out-of-hospital bystander-witnessed cardiac arrest were discharged from hospital alive, compared to five per cent in 2001/02.

David Parham, Centre Manager from Centrale Shopping Centre, said: “We welcome having this life-saving equipment on-site. The centre attracts many shoppers of all different ages and of course there is a risk that someone may suffer a heart attack or cardiac arrest. The defibrillators, and the London Ambulance Service’s training, have given our staff the confidence to carry out basic life support in even the most extreme of situations. We are so proud of our security team who have shown the utmost dedication to their life-saving training.”

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* The cardiac arrest survival figure is calculated using the internationally-recognised Utstein method. The calculation takes into account the number of patients discharged alive from hospital who had resuscitation attempted following a cardiac arrest of presumed cardiac aetiology, and who also had their arrest witnessed by a bystander and an initial cardiac rhythm of ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.

Additional figures from London Ambulance Service Cardiac Arrest Annual Report 2006/07 – Authors Dr Rachael Donohoe and Sarah Mawson

  • Around two-thirds of cardiac arrests in London occurred in the home.
  • Of those that occurred in public, over a third took place in the street.
  • Nearly half of all cardiac arrests were witnessed by bystanders.
  • However, bystanders only gave cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a third of all cardiac arrests.
  • The average age of a cardiac arrest patient was 67.
  • The majority of patients (64 per cent) were male.
  • Female patients were on average seven years older than males (72 compared with 65).
  • Cardiac arrests occurred most frequently on a Saturday.
  • The highest number in a single month occurred in January (11 per cent).

Notes to editors

  • A cardiac arrest occurs when a person’s heart stops. Someone in cardiac arrest will lose consciousness, will not be breathing and will have no signs of circulation. A cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, the latter being when a clot in the artery restricts the flow of blood to the heart. The terms ‘cardiac arrest’ and ‘heart attack’ are not interchangeable.
  • London’s cardiac arrest survival figure using the Utstein method has increased from five per cent in 2001/02 to 15.8 per cent in 2006/07.
  • In 2006/07 the London Ambulance Service received over 113,000 calls from patients reporting potential cardiac or chest-pain-related problems.
  • The London Ambulance Service provides free CPR training to the public and to businesses at a cost.People who are interested in learning CPR and how to save a life in a medical emergency should call 020 7463 3120 or email [email protected].