No driving licence without first aid training? New parliamentary bill could

New parliament bill seeks to force new drivers to obtain life-saving skills before qualifying for full license. An MP is seeking to introduce a new bill in parliament that would make first aid training a mandatory requirement before receiving a driving licence.
The Driving Licence (Mandatory First Aid Training) Bill has been presented to the House of Commons by Will Quince, Conservative MP for Colchester.

The bill, backed by the British Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance, calls for new drivers to undergo a four-hour practical first-aid course before they can be granted a licence.

So often there isn’t time for an ambulance to arrive, knowledge of first aid can be absolutely critical

Will Quince, MP

Quince says that if added to the statute book, his bill could reduce road deaths in the UK and increase knowledge among the population of important life-saving skills.

He bases this claim on a recent survey conducted on behalf of St John Ambulance, which found that 59% of respondents didn’t feel confident enough to save a life, while 24%, if they found themselves at the scene of a road traffic collision, wouldn’t take any action until an ambulance arrived.

If introduced, this legislation wouldn’t be unique: a number of countries – including Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Austria – have similar laws in place. Switzerland, for example, requires new drivers to prove that they have had at least 10 hours of first-aid training in order to qualify for their driving theory test.

When presenting his bill, Quince said: “A review of road traffic in Europe cited by the World Health Organisation claims that 50% of deaths from road collisions occurred within a few minutes of the crash.

“So often there isn’t time for an ambulance to arrive, knowledge of first aid can be absolutely critical. Immediate initiation of CPR, for example, can double or even quadruple survival from cardiac arrest.

“But the sad reality is that in Britain the knowledge of first aid is patchy. Through no fault of their own, people do not feel confident enough to intervene and provide first aid in crash and accident situations.”

Half of people not confident about administering CPR, survey finds

About half of people in Scotland do not feel confident administering CPR if needed in an emergency, a survey has found.

Fear of causing an injury (22%) and lack of skills (19%) were the top reasons, closely followed by being put off by visible vomit or blood (19%) and indications the person is a drug user (16%).

A fear of being sued (8%) or catching a disease (10%) were also cited in the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) report by the Open University for the Scottish Government.

The study was set up to explore ways of improving people’s understanding and knowledge of emergency CPR.

It states that survival rates from OHCA in Scotland currently stand at 5% and those who receive CPR from a bystander before professionals arrive are “far more likely to survive to hospital discharge than those who do not”.

The survey of more than 1,000 people found 77% think everyone should be CPR trained but just 52% are.

Of those trained, 44% did so over five years ago and just 28% within the last year.

The majority of respondents who were CPR-trained received it because it was a requirement of their employment or was offered to them through voluntary work.

The study found that the older a person is, the less likely or willing they were to be CPR-trained.

The report said: “These findings are particularly relevant considering that most OHCA happen in the homes of older people.”

Employment was also an influential factor identified among people who had CPR training.

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Resus Council Guidelines 2015

DSC_0077_smThe 15th October was the date that the 2015 Resus Council guidelines were updated. This happens every 5 years, so will be due again in 2020. There were quite a number of changes made in 2010. There appear to be very few changes in the 2015 guidelines.

The first thing to pick up appears to be that there is no emphasised shout for help as part of the response check.

There is no change to the airway section, with jaw thrust still being something that is not recommended for first aiders.

The breathing check has very little change to it, although it does go straight in to what to do if the casualty is not breathing, no mention is made of what to do with a breathing casualty.

After finding a casualty with no breathing, emphasis is placed on sending for an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and calling for professional help (999/112). If an AED is available, it is recommended that someone should be sent to fetch the defibrillator, if it is a lone rescuer, they should start CPR. It is suggested to use the speaker-phone if calling from a mobile phone, so that the rescuer has both hands available to them.

When moving on to compressions, the wording has changed slightly, the depth of compression is still 5-6cm, but no more than 6cm. There is also emphasis placed on full recoil of the chest to allow the heart to refill with blood.

Those that are trained in CPR/BLS should perform breaths/ventilations if it is safe and they are able to do so. Compressions only CPR should be performed by those that are not trained or, if for some reason, you are unable to do the breaths/ventilations.

The full 2015 Resuscitation Guidelines and posters are available here.

Study shows public access defibrillators are increasing survival but are not being used enough

New research presented at this year’s Euroanaesthesia shows that use of public access defibrillation on people suffering cardiac arrest is associated with a large increase in chances of survival. However, despite the great potential, publicly accessible Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are not being used enough, concludes research by Dr Marianne Agerskov and colleagues at Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Publicly accessible AEDs are now commonplace in many European countries, and they are often found in sport centres, transportation hubs, and other public places. In Denmark, an online network owned by the foundation TrygFonden, contains detailed information about AED location and accessibility on all AEDs voluntarily registered in the network by AED owners. The Emergency Medical Dispatch Centres (EMD) across the country are linked to the network, enabling them to refer cardiac arrest witnesses to the nearest accessible AED. The network has provided a unique opportunity to assess the use and effects of public access defibrillation in Copenhagen.

In this study, the authors determined: (1) the proportion of AEDs applied to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) victims before arrival of the ambulance; and (2) the proportion of AEDs referred to by the EMD. When the dispatcher at the EMD suspects a cardiac arrest, they are able, through the network, to refer the witness to/explain on the phone where the nearest accessible AED is. The research team also assessed 30-day survival and characteristics of OHCA-victims.

The researchers identified a total of 521 patients with OHCA from the Mobile Emergency Care Unit and the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry between 2011 and 2013. They obtained Electrocardiogram-downloads from all applied AEDs. Information regarding AED-referral by the EMD was obtained from the nationwide AED Network.

An AED was applied to an OHCA-victim before ambulance arrival in 20/521 (3.8%) cases, and 13/521 (2.5%) OHCA-victims were defibrillated by an AED. To explain further: an AED was applied in 20 cases of cardiac arrest, but the AED only defibrillates (delivers one or more shocks) when it registers a “shockable rhythm”. In case of cardiac arrest, the heart either has some “electricity” left, which means the muscle is still working, but in an unsynchronised way, so that it can’t deliver blood to the rest of the body. In that case, a shock delivered by a defibrillator sort of “resets” the heart so it again beats synchronized. In other cases, the heart has an unshockable rhythm which means no electricity and it can’t be defibrillated by an AED, the only chance to get the heart beating is by performing chest compressions and hope that the heart will get some electricity so that it can be defibrillated. An AED only works when it can deliver a shock, and the data in this study showed that an AED was actually valuable in the 13 out of 20 cases where it was applied, underscoring their eligibility. Thirteen of the 20 people who had an AED applied had a shockable rhythm, and thus received one or more shocks from the AED. In six cases, the member of the public was guided to the AED by the dispatcher.

The data showed that the 30-day survival for all patients, regardless of initial rhythm, was 50% for patients with an AED applied and 19% for patients without an AED applied. For OHCA with an initial shockable rhythm (meaning they could directly benefit from the applied AED) 30-day survival was 64% with an AED applied versus 47% without.

The authors conclude: “Members of the public were only directed to the nearest AED for a minor proportion of OHCA victims, but there was a significantly higher survival in patients where an AED was applied before EMS arrival. This indicates the life-saving potential and need to further develop public access defibrillation networks.”

They add that during recent years, Denmark has seen an increased use of AEDs, which might reflect several initiatives taken to raise survival after OHCA in Denmark including; implementation of mandatory resuscitation training in elementary schools and when acquiring a driver’s licence, improving the telephone guidance to bystanders witnessing a cardiac arrest, by using health care professionals to receive calls at the EMD, as nurses or experienced ambulance rescuers trained to recognise cardiac arrests and to guide the callers to perform chest compressions and use an AED until ambulance arrives.

Discussing some changes that they would like to see in the future, the authors say: “There has been a large increase in the number of publicly accessible AEDs. Means to increase AED utilisation should target public awareness of the AED network and the location of the AEDs, CPR and AED training, and further development of the existing AED network and linkage to the emergency medical dispatch system.”


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First Person on Scene Update July 2015

First Person on Scene – Review and Revision

As a result of the notification of the withdrawal of the Ambulance and Paramedic Practice suite, jointly awarded with AACE, there appears to be some confusion over the future of the First Person on Scene suite of qualifications.

The First Person on Scene suite is not being withdrawn.  There will be continuous FPoS provision for the foreseeable future.

As you may already be aware the First Person on Scene suite has been subject to a review and is now undergoing redevelopment.

The proposal for the new qualifications are as follows:

  • FPoS suite will transfer to regulated frameworks both, QCF and SCQF. Intermediate programme will be levelled at QCF Level 3.
  • Assessment will move to on screen testing.
  • Will continue to be endorsed by the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh) and recognised on the Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care framework.
  • Qualification specification to be updated and maintained with regard to clinical practice and professional guidelines; JRCALC; FPHC Framework etc
  • Revise, reformat and reissue FPoS Rules and Regulations as Centre Approval Criteria
  • FPoS manual to be revised in line with revised specification and assessment.  Will also be available in electronic format for approved centres.
  • Additional content for specialist optional units for particular sectors ie search and rescue; remote environments; security etc
  • FPoS continues to be trademarked to Pearson until at least 2022.
  • Target date for launch of new qualification suite January 2016.


Bristol taxi driver Dean Clarke saves passenger’s life with CPR

When taxi driver Dean Clarke picked up his last fare on Saturday night, he never imagined by the time the journey ended he would have saved a life. But when a 76-year-old passenger collapsed and began having a heart attack, his instincts kicked in along with advice picked up from an advertising campaign.

Mr Clarke, who has been a taxi driver for Bristol-based Homesafe Cars for two years, administered emergency CPR to John Alexander for 20 minutes, despite having no previous first aid experience. And the technique he used to save his passengers life were gleaned from watching a campaign backed by soccer hardman Vinnie Jones. In the Staying Alive advert the footballer turned actor demonstrates how to administer CPR accompanied by the Bee Gees’ hit of the same name.

The 54-year-old was helping the man and his wife out of the taxi outside their Hanham home after they had been to a pub in Cadbury Heath celebrating their son’s birthday. Mr Clarke said: “As I helped the man out of the car, he collapsed back. It was really frightening, I rang an ambulance and told them what was happening. They talked me through some basic CPR and I just had to keep his head back and his airways open.

“I had never done CPR before, the only knowledge I had of it was from the Vinny Jones’ CPR videos. The man on the phone was great, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.” Mr Clarke also rang his colleague to go back to the pub and pick up the man’s son. After 20 minutes, an ambulance arrived to take the man to hospital where he was treated.

Paramedics told Dean if it wasn’t for the CPR he administered, the man may not have survived.

He said: “They said I helped save the man’s life, but if it wasn’t for the people at the end of the phone talking me through I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it, so I owe it to them really. I’m just so glad to hear the man is ok, miraculously he is out of hospital already and doing well I hear so that is all that matters. I was very anxious on Sunday until I heard he was OK. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything out of the ordinary, I was just doing my job and what anyone would have done. But it was a very frightening experience and I’m just glad it has been a positive outcome.”

The manager of Homesafe Taxis Mark Horman said: “It’s amazing really what he did and we are very proud to have him as one of our taxi drivers. He went above and beyond and we are just pleased that the man is OK and out of hospital. His family have been in touch with us through our Facebook page and have thanked us.” Aide White said on the Facebook page: “Thanks guys, this is my father-in-law of 35 years. You lived up to your company’s name, Homesafe. You did a great job.”

Daughter Louise White said: “Thank you very much this customer is my Dad we have just picked him up from hospital and apart from bruising and a chest infection he is OK as a family we can not thank you enough. My mum and dad will be in contact with you soon thanks again.

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Norfolk mother’s praise for ‘guardian angel’ whose first aid skills helped save four-week-old baby

A mother-of-three is urging people to have first aid training, after a “guardian angel” neighbour helped save the life of her four-week old baby when he stopped breathing.

Tina Westlake, 34, said her son Kane, now eight weeks old, “wouldn’t be here” were it not for the actions of 24-year-old Emily White who administered emergency first aid she had recently learnt and carried out CPR until paramedics arrived.

Kane stopped breathing after choking on milk after being laid down for a sleep at the family home in Foulsham, prompting a panic-striken Mrs Westlake to run out into the street to scream for help, carrying her son in her arms.

Neighbour Mrs White, who was on her way to pick her daughter Jorgie up from school, heard the screams and ran back to put into practice skills picked up at a course run by First Aid at Work Norfolk, based at Ringland Road in Taverham.

The mother-of-two, who went on the course to help her secure a job as a first-aider for Fakenham-based Med PTS, said the “excellent” training she received meant she was able to calmly deal with the unfolding emergency.

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10-year-old trained in first aid saves friend from choking in Goose Creek

It started off like any other normal after-school afternoon.

Skylar Mills and Katelyn Palmer were playing outside in their Goose Creek neighborhood. It was mid-May, just weeks away from the academic year’s end at Westview Elementary.

The girls were sharing powdered doughnuts, those white-sugar and refined-flour sweets from a paper Hostess bag. But then, Katelyn started panicking. She couldn’t talk or breathe. A piece of the doughnut was lodged in her throat.

Skylar jumped into action. She stood behind her friend, wrapped her arms around Katelyn’s torso and performed the Heimlich maneuver to clear her airway. The doughnut popped back up and Katelyn spit it out.

“I guess I didn’t chew it down all the way,” the now-11-year-old said. “I was kind of, like, terrified, but I went back inside and got some water.”

Lucky for Katelyn, Skylar is a trained lifesaver. The Heimlich maneuver wasn’t some cool trick she picked up from an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Trauma: Life in the ER,” two of her favorite TV shows.

Skylar, only 10 years old at the time, happens to be the youngest student ever trained in the technique through one of Trident Health’s community education classes. She completed the three-hour first-aid and CPR course last fall.

She never anticipated she would need to rely on that training in real life, but as soon as Katelyn couldn’t breath, Skylar said she knew what to do. “I went behind her and started squeezing her stomach like they told me to do at the Trident Medical Center,” she said.

More than 12,000 children are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal choking episodes, according to a study published in 2013 by The American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Improved surveillance, food labeling and redesign, and public education are strategies that can help reduce pediatric food choking,” the report’s authors wrote.

Those tips could save lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate nearly 60 children die from choking each year.

Katelyn didn’t go to the hospital, in fact, her mom had a hard time believing her story at first, but the scare underscores how basic first aid techniques sometimes make the difference between life and death. Permanent brain damage from choking sets in within four to six minutes.

The National Safety Council says 25 percent of all trips to the emergency room could be spared with basic first aid and CPR certification.

Skylar’s mom, Jewel Baker, said her daughter willingly signed up for the class at Trident Medical Center because she’s always been interested in emergency medicine.

“She always asks me about my day,” said Baker, a nurse at Centre Point Emergency in North Charleston, which is owned by Trident Health.

Baker said $20 seemed like a small price to pay for the hospital’s first aid course, which is offered periodically throughout the year. Baker figured it might come in handy when Skylar starts babysitting.

“She said she wanted to do it. I said as long as she could perform the skills, she could do it,” Baker said. “I dropped her off for three hours and I came back. They thought she was older than 10.”

The instructor couldn’t believe how young Skylar really was, Baker said. “She said she was amazed that she’s only 10 and she could do it.”

Despite the events of that dramatic afternoon last month, Skylar and Katelyn look like their lives have returned to normal. In fact, they recounted their story to The Post and Courier with typical tween nonchalance.

Katelyn admitted she might want to take a first-aid class herself. She worries she wouldn’t know what to do if her little brother ever started choking.

Skylar, meanwhile, has her sights set on a long-term goal.

“I want to be an emergency surgeon doctor.”

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Rugby Dog Training Club

LogoDuncan Parsonage from Abacus Training recently delivered a CPR and defibrillator session for Rugby Dog Training Club. The Dog Training Club have had a defibrillator available to them for quite some time, as they recognised the need for early CPR and defibrillation several years ago.

A very enjoyable night was had by all those that took part (as you can see from some of the photos). From a serious and potentially life saving subject came great team work, communication and fun. Excellent feedback was received from the participants, who thoroughly enjoyed the course.

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Wearable vest defibrillator for heart patients is saving lives

Debra Chaffin, 59, was at risk for a sudden cardiac arrest, but fortunately she had the protection of a wearable defibrillator, a white undergarment that she credits with saving her life.

Eleven days after she was diagnosed with a weak heart, she was outfitted with a LifeVest she wore under her shirt.

The vest was a tight squeeze, but proved its worth on Nov. 9, 2014, when Debra started feeling nauseous.

She recalled lying down to rest and sending out a grandson for a sandwich, thinking she would feel better once she had something to eat.

“All I knew something was not right, something was wrong,” Chaffin said.

She soon lost consciousness.

The LifeVest, however, was not missing a beat, detecting a “ventricular fibrillation,” when the heart beats so rapidly that it shakes instead of delivering blood to the organs. The arrhythmia can be fatal if not treated quickly, said Dr. Ashraf Elsakr, her cardiologist with Advanced Cardiology in Port Orange.

The LifeVest delivered a shock that restored Debra’s normal heart function within a minute of detecting the arrhythmia. A gel was also released to improve the treatment and protect the skin.

The LifeVest delivered the shock without any bystander intervention except for older brother, Dana Morris, calling for an ambulance.

“She turned blue like a Smurf,” Morris recalled. “(I knew) that device went off. I called 9-1-1. It wasn’t a question.”

Debra was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center. Twelve family members followed her there.

The big group was a little bit intimidating for Elsakr, he recalled.

“I thought I better treat her right,” the doctor joked.

Morris was impressed how quickly the doctor took charge when Debra started having more attacks of ventricular fibrillation.

“Some family (members) collapsed and thought that was it,” Morris said. “That was when Capt. Kirk saved her.”

Morris compared Elsakr to the “Star Trek” commander because he looked like “Capt. Kirk at the console. ‘Spock, get me the reading on this. Uhura, get me this.’”

Elsakr said he recognized at the time that Debra needed a more permanent solution, an implantable defibrillator.

“There was no point in waiting,” Elsakr said.

The LifeVest had been a temporary solution, like a life preserver that keeps someone afloat in the ocean until the rescue boat arrives.

Another metaphor is that the LifeVest is considered a “bridge therapy.”

Once a heart condition is detected, insurance requirements typically mandates a waiting period of a few weeks to a few months to determine the best course of treatment, Elsakr explained.

The idea is to avoid rushing into something that is not best for the patient. Some patients will improve with a change in lifestyle and may not need an invasive procedure.

“It’s more or less appropriate to wait,” Elsakr said. “A lot of patients do get better. “

“I’m a believer that there are causes for everything,” he added. “You should try to seek the cause for the problem before you fix anything.”

Elsakr said Debra’s situation was complicated because she had an underlying lung condition.

To make sure she was safe, Elsakr prescribed her the LifeVest, which her insurance covered.

She had to wear it 24 hours a day, except for the shower. Sometimes she took it off when nobody else was around. It felt a little snug, she said.

The LifeVest also works as a heart monitor. An online patient management system allows clinicians to access patient data downloaded from the wearable defibrillator.

Manufactured by Zoll, a Pittsburgh-based company, it has been on the market since it was approved by the Food & Drug Administration in 2001.

Debra had not heard of the vest until Elsakr prescribed it for her. She would recommend it to anybody.

“You don’t want to lose your mom, your dad,” Debra said. “That’s what life is all about, family.”


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