Thousands of lives could be saved with a new project to alert people who see someone having a heart attack to the location of the nearest public cardiac equipment.
The NHS, British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Microsoft have teamed up to create a map of all the public defibrillators in Britain.
The life-saving machines are installed at locations around the country, but people who dial 999 are not always directed to the nearest one because of a lack of information about their whereabouts. Just three per cent of people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital are treated with a public access defibrillator, the BHF said.
The charity said it means the chances of survival are reduced for tens of thousands of people every year. There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK, but fewer than one in 10 people survive.
BHF Chief Executive Simon Gillespie said: “This innovative project will give every ambulance service immediate access to the location of defibrillators in their areas, so they can direct bystanders to their nearest life-saving device in the event of a cardiac arrest. Every minute without CPR or defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around 10 per cent.
“Thousands more lives could be saved if the public were equipped with vital CPR skills and had access to a defibrillator in the majority of cases.”
The project, which involves the BHF, NHS England, NHS Scotland and Microsoft partner company New Signature, will see a comprehensive defibrillator map of the UK created over the next 12 months.
It follows a “Defib Hunt” appeal launched last year by Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS).
Throughout October, people who spotted the devices when out and about were asked to share social media pictures with the ambulance service. The campaign identified 204 defibrillators around Yorkshire, 41 of which were unknown to YAS.
The national project has been welcomed by Stuart Askew, who used a public defibrillator on his son Ethan last April after the 15-year-old collapsed on the school field.
Mr Askew, a premises manager at Steiner Academy in Hereford - the same school attended by his son - had helped to set up a defibrillator just two days previously.
He said: “I know that without the CPR and defibrillator, Ethan wouldn’t have survived.”