Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are devices that can correct abnormal heart rhythms in certain types of cardiac arrest. In the past number of years a number of AEDs have been installed in a wide variety of places throughout the country.
In December 2014, HIQA published a health technology assessment which found that public access to defibrillation would result in a number of patients surviving to hospital discharge. The report estimated that since 1998, more than 15,000 AED’s were sold in Ireland. The report also highlighted the value of expanded cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.
On this basis a national Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Steering group (OHCA) was established in 2017. This group represents professional bodies, NGO’s, patients, healthcare providers and other sectors. The purpose of this project is to improve survival rates for those who suffer an out of hospital cardiac arrest through the development and implementation of an out of hospital cardiac arrest strategy up to 2020. This work will support the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and Community First Responder Ireland (CFR Ireland) in their commitment to improve clinical outcomes for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA).
Both the NAS and CFR Ireland are working with other partners to enable a sustainable response to such events. The Department of Health and HSE are committed to improving survival rates of those who suffer an out of hospital cardiac arrest. Community First Responders offer a valuable and complementary resource to emergency ambulance provision and achieve improved survival for OHCA. Both the HSE and CFR Ireland intend to consolidate, enhance and implement further CFR schemes over the next five years. This includes increasing the availability of training in CPR in schools, work places and local groups and making Public Access Defibrillators more easily accessible with people knowing how to use them.
The OHCA Steering Group is considering how best to improve Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest survival by strengthening the ‘Chain of Survival’ across Ireland. National and international evidence and experience will be assessed to see if it can be applied in Ireland.
It is anticipated that the report of the OHCA Steering group, due later in 2018, will provide advice to the Department/Minister for Health and HSE on how best to strengthen the chain of survival for cardiac arrest, increasing CPR training, building on the Community First Responder Programme and making public access defibrillators more easily accessible.