26 September 2023

Ambulance research goes to the heart

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New research from Ambulance Victoria (AV) has found that a large number of community members are stepping up to help save lives when they witness a heart attack.

Releasing its Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry (VACAR) 2020-2021 Annual Report, AV said the Report found that when members of the public witnessed a cardiac arrest, 77 per cent of people were willing to start life-saving CPR.

“The Report also revealed a record number of cardiac arrests between July 2020 and June 2021 across the State, with paramedics attending 6,934 cases, a 2.5 per cent increase on the year before,” AV said.

“Along with a willingness to start CPR, a growing number of Victorians are accessing public defibrillators (automated external defibrillators – AEDs) before paramedics arrive, further boosting patients’ chances of survival.”

It said the VACAR Report showed an overall survival rate of nine per cent, down slightly on previous years, “however this can be attributed to impacts of COVID-19”.

Director, Centre for Research and Evaluation at AV, Karen Smith said the need for paramedics and first responders to don personal protective equipment had led to delay in commencement of CPR and defibrillation.

“Critical changes to clinical practice guidelines aiming to minimise the aerosol risk associated with OHCA (out-of-hospital cardiac arrest) interventions has also impacted the quality of resuscitation provided,” Professor Smith said.

“In addition, social restrictions have led to fewer people experiencing an OHCA in public, which reduces the utility of public access defibrillators to improve survival outcomes,” she said.

AV said the Report identified an average emergency response time of 8.2 minutes from the Triple Zero call, with most patients defibrillated in just over 10 minutes.

It said of cardiac arrest cases in 2020-21, 66 per cent were male and 34 per cent female, while 79 per cent occurred inside the home.

AV’s 67-page VACAR Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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