Newham Council, which governs the east London borough of Newham, has offered its support to a citywide campaign to remind businesses and employers generally of the importance of installing life-saving equipment in their premises, the Council’s official publication The Newham Mag has reported.
The Shockingly Easy campaign, organised by the London Ambulance Service, is encouraging companies to place a defibrillator in offices and warehouses. This electronic device can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a company employee or visitor suffering cardiac arrest (heart attack). The machine comes with two pads which are applied to the chest when a cardiac incident occurs, and uses electricity to shock the heart into restarting and pumping blood normally again.
A representative of Newham Council, Cllr. Clive Furness, who is the council’s mayoral advisor for adults and health, helped launch the safety drive’s activities in Newham at a special ceremony in Stratford Shopping Centre. He said to The Newham Mag “I urge every business to get a defibrillator. It is vital that these life-saving machines are within easy reach of anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest. It could save their life.” The event demonstrated how to use the equipment, including purchase and installation, as well as staff training in their use. The event also offered opportunities for businesses to get their equipment safety accredited with the Ambulance Service and dispelled many myths currently surrounding defibrillators.
The council have already come on board with the Shockingly Easy campaign themselves by having defibrillation equipment put into place at their main offices at Newham Dockside, near Canning Town in the south of the borough, and councillors are hoping that this will set an example for other private and government organisations to follow suit.
The Stratford event saw ambulance crews with a retinue of resuscitation dummies and defibrillators take over the public plaza inside the shopping centre to show local businesses and shoppers how to use the equipment and save a colleague’s life in as little as five minutes. The London Ambulance Service’s chairman, Richard Hunt CBE, said: “Our latest data shows that there were 304 out of hospital cardiac arrests in Newham in a year and 43 of these occurred in the street and locations like workplaces, gyms, shops, public transport and places of worship.”
“When you have a cardiac arrest your heart stops, blood is no longer being pumped around the body and you are clinically dead.
“It’s crucial that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR – chest compressions and rescue breaths) and defibrillation is given to the patient in the first three to four minutes.”
That event took place on the Wednesday 22nd October, but the quest to get more businesses installing this vital piece of kit on their premises is gathering pace with a similar phase of campaigning gaining the support of the council for Bromley borough, which lies south of the river Thames and Newham.
The London Ambulance Service, an emergency service organisation under the umbrella of the National Health Service, is responsible for running most of the ambulances and emergency vehicles that serve the capital’s hospitals and save thousands of lives every year. Their campaign aims to get a thousand defibrillators fitted at shops, businesses and gyms across London. The service states that only 28% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest at a public place survive without immediate medical intervention, but using a defibrillator means that the survival rate can jump to 80%. The service gives figures that around 10,000 cardiac arrests occur every year in the whole of London, a rate of 27 a day.
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood around the body, and can be a result of heart attack, choking or trauma.
A cardiac arrest is different to a heart attack which happens when an artery becomes obstructed, restricting the flow of blood to the heart. The most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain, though there are other symptoms. If left untreated it can lead to a cardiac arrest, which is when the heart stops beating.