New Resuscitation Strategy vital to saving lives, Poots tells Assembly

26 February 2013

We need to increase the number of people who can offer emergency cardiac arrests skills critical to keeping patients alive until professional help arrives, Health Minister Edwin Poots today told MLAs.
In a written statement, the Minister updated the Assembly on his plans to maximise the number of people trained in Emergency Life Support (ELS) through developing the Community Resuscitation Strategy for Northern Ireland.
He said: “Each year approximately 1,300 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital environment.  Tragically, fewer than 10% of people who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest will survive to be discharged from hospital.   
“ELS skills are the key set of actions needed to keep someone alive until professional help arrives.  It includes performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); dealing with choking and serious bleeding; how to put someone in the recovery position, and helping someone who may be having a heart attack.
“The evidence indicates that in places where there is a high proportion of the population trained in ELS skills the survival rate for those who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is higher than in areas where the proportion of the population trained in ELS skills is low.  I believe a Northern Ireland community resuscitation strategy will help to focus a drive to increase the number of people, of all ages, trained in ELS skills and to coordinate the use of available resources to achieve this.”  
In his statement, the Minister told the Assembly he had asked the Chief Medical Officer to establish a working group to develop a Community Resuscitation Strategy for Northern Ireland, aimed at coordinating available resources to maximise the number of individuals trained in ELS skills.
The working group will be chaired by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and will include representatives from DHSSPS, Health and Social Care bodies, community and voluntary bodies involved in resuscitation training as well as representation from other Northern Ireland Departments such as the Department of Education, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Department of Social Development. The working group will be asked to have the strategy ready for consultation by October 2013.
He said: “By extending ELS training and keeping people alive to allow them to avail of appropriate treatment in hospital, we can maximise the chances of survival or improved recovery from heart attack. I recognise we have some considerable way to go, however I believe we need to extend ELS training in order to save more lives.”  
Mr Poots acknowledged the valuable work that is already taking place across Northern Ireland, by the Health and Social Care service and a number of voluntary organisations such as the British Heart Foundation, ABC for Life, the Red Cross and St John Ambulance.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Minister’s statement is due to made to the Assembly at 10.30am February 26, 2013. The full statement can be viewed at
  2. Media queries about this press release to DHSSPS Information Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.

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