First Responders Can Make All The Difference

First Responders can make all the difference when an out of hospital cardiac arrest occurs

First Responders can make all the difference when an out of hospital cardiac arrest occurs, according to 2021 annual report of the Out-of -Hospital Cardiac Arrest Register OHCAR Ireland.

First Responders can include members of the general public, off-duty healthcare workers, members of Community First Responder groups, Local Authority Fire Services, voluntary organisations (such as the Irish Red Cross, Order of Malta, St. John Ambulance and the Irish Coast Guard), auxiliary services such as Civil Defence and members of An Garda Síochána.

The potential impact on survival from Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest emphasises the importance of First Responders and provides valuable evidence of their value to local communities.

In 2021 there were 2,906 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest where resuscitation was attempted (61 per 100,000 population). Most (74%) occurred in the home.

Last year 178 patients survived their out-of-hospital cardiac arrest to leave hospital alive, 97% with moderate to good neurological outcome, according to the report. 

Professor Conor Deasy, Chair of the Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Register, said:

“First Responders include a wide range of trained volunteers, both lay and health care professionals who encounter an emergency and are prepared to provide care. In each of these groups, recognition of the patient being collapsed and in cardiac arrest, willingness to deliver chest compressions and ideally access to an AED can make all the difference.

“First Responders defibrillated 198 patients, of whom 54 survived (27.8%). This achievement emphasises the importance of these groups of responders and provides valuable evidence for their impact within the community.”

The Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Register (OHCAR) is hosted and funded by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and aims to improve outcomes in Ireland by continuous performance measurement and feedback to service providers and the broader community.

OHCAR enables NAS and other providers such as the Dublin Fire Brigade and the Dublin Airport Authority to measure their performance in relation to cardiac arrest treatment processes and survival and identify any opportunities that may exist to improve outcomes.

The Register in Ireland provides an evidence-based means of quality assuring and quality improving the care provided in this extreme emergency by ambulance services in Ireland.

Robert Morton, Director of National Ambulance Service, highlighted the role of Community First Responders.

“Community First Responders and other First Responders play a very important role in supporting the delivery of prehospital emergency care in local communities.

“In particular Community First Responders are an integral part of dealing with an emergency in the community in that they provide vital lifesaving CPR and defibrillator treatment to patients while an ambulance is on route.

“I would encourage anyone interested in becoming a Community First Responder to visit and get in touch. There is currently a need for additional Community First Responders right around the country and you will be given the essential training required. We would also like to see additional Community First Responder Schemes established where they are needed.”