CPR - A Vital Survival Skill for the Outdoors

There is one vital skill that doesn't appear on many "pack lists". Are you prepared for the worst?

CPR a vital skill for the outdoors

Preparing for going Outside & being Active:

  1. Check the weather forecast
  2. Plan my route
  3. Prepare my ‘kit’
  4. Fuel up
  5. Remember the essentials; watch/GPS tracker, fuel, fluids, kit
  6. Make sure my CPR training is up to date

Wait, what…. this last one is not featured on my training planner!

I’ve never seen it happen, is it really a problem?

There are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) in the UK every year, with a current survival rate of just 1 in 10 (British Heart Foundation, 2022). It is a global health challenge with poor survival rates worldwide. However, we know early initiation of good quality cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of a defibrillator can double the chances of surviving an OHCA.

Given we know the outcome of such an event is greatly influenced by the response of those around, it is an ideal time to ask yourself how well prepared you are to face what could be the biggest challenge of your, or someone else’s, life.

You don’t have to be an expert to learn life saving skills

Picture the scenario, you are out on one of your favourite trails in the middle of fields, two hours from anywhere and you come across someone collapsed in front of you, or worse still, your friend, who agreed to share some ‘chatty miles’ with you has suddenly gone quiet, you turn round to see them lying on the ground. Would you know what to do next? For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, the chance of survival decreases, every second really does count.

CPR is now being performed by more ‘bystanders’ thanks to increased awareness and better access to CPR training. This, in conjunction with more public access defibrillators being available in communities is helping to improve survival outcomes. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, studies have shown a decrease in the number of people performing bystander CPR.

To improve the chances of survival we need everyone to know how to perform these life-saving skills and be confident enough to put them into action, should the need arise. CPR shouldn’t be something to fear. Always remember, do something rather than nothing!

Before we dive into it, what is CPR?

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a lifesaving technique that can be used to restart someone’s heart when it has stopped beating. CPR involves chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. When done correctly, CPR can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival!

Three key skills, to help save someone’s life.

Learn how to perform bystander CPR and how to use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).

Find out about education providers, such as local charities in your area that offer face-to-face training sessions. This will allow you to get some ‘hands-on’ practice and therefore give you confidence should you ever need to use your skills. If you are part of a running club or walking group, you could arrange a bespoke training session with a trained professional, ending with a cheeky social get together to reward your achievements (way more impressive than any PB times)!

There are also numerous resources available online that talk you through what you need to do and at the end of the day, if you really need help, call 999 and they will walk you through the procedure. The Resuscitation Council UK’s CPR Right Now campaign have great video animations available, with a choice of accent voiceovers (I´d personally recommend the Scottish one 😊) and additional languages.

Alternatively, their award winning Lifesaver app uses action-packed scenarios presented as interactive games, which help you learn the skills needed to perform CPR and first aid. They have also created a Lifesaver VR experience which is popular with younger learners and also an e-Lifesaver workforce training tool that meets the National standard for CPR and AED awareness training. Why not encourage your workplace to adopt its use too!

The British Heart Foundation also provide lots of educational resources, take 15 minutes now to undertake their RevivR™ CPR training, be prepared before you step outside the door today!

Interestingly, during the “race bib pick-up day” at the Seville marathon recently held in Spain, CPR training was available to any runners/spectators wishing to learn or refresh their skills, if you organise events perhaps this is something you could incorporate into future events! Sounds more valuable than a free event t-shirt to me!

AED outdoor skills

Defibrillation accessibility

Do you know where the nearest defibrillator is to you? It is encouraging to know that parkrun are working towards a global position where all parkrun events will have direct access to an AED. The whereabouts of the defibrillator is included in the pre-event brief. If you organise community events this is something for you to consider to your emergency action plans.

Whilst an increase in local communities and businesses purchasing AEDs is a positive step forward many of the defibrillators are sadly not used as emergency services do not know where they are or how to access them. This can cost lives. The Circuit is the national UK defibrillator network which provides an overview of where these vital pieces of life-saving equipment can be found. If you know of any privately purchased defibrillators please enquire whether they have been registered on the Circuit. It could make the difference between life and death.

Participate in the next Restart a Heart Day – 16th October 2022

Every year ‘Restart a Heart Day’ takes place within the UK. The Resuscitation Council UK along with the British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross, St John Ambulance Service and Saving Lives for Scotland work together to help raise awareness about cardiac arrest and teach CPR.

If every member of the Outside & Active community got involved in this year’s event just think of the impact we could have, ultimately making getting outside and active a truly remarkable and safe place to be!

Want to learn more about CPR and how to use an AED?

If you want to help improve the odds of survival for someone in cardiac arrest, learn CPR and how to use an AED. These are skills that anyone can learn and they could make the difference between life and death. Training is available through many different organisations, so there’s no excuse not to get yourself certified today – ask your community groups how to get one going in your area.

You may never need the skills you learn, but if you do, you’ll be glad you took the time to get trained. You could be saving your best friends life.

About the Author - Muriel Dempsie

Muriel grew up in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. She lived in Aberdeen, working as a nurse within a busy Coronary Care Unit, and latterly teaching nursing, before relocating with her family to Madrid.

Perhaps the sunnier weather was the catalyst for her progression from ‘occasional runner’, undertaking 10km to half marathon distances, to becoming a marathoner. She is currently in the midst of another training block for her 5th in Edinburgh.

When not running (or skipping) she works as a nurse lecturer. Cardiac care remains her passion and she delivers CPR/defibrillation training to friends and fellow runners overseas as she firmly believes everyone should know what to do in the event of being faced with a person in sudden cardiac arrest. She states ‘equipping every runner with the confidence and skills to save a life can only further enhance what is already a fantastic, positive community’.

You can follow Muriel on Instagram here.