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Southwold gets a defib

Southwold Responders were present at the recent unveiling of a new community access defibrillator. The defib has been provided by the East of England Co-operative as part of its Every Minute Counts campaign and is housed in a red telephone box on Victoria Street. Posters are also on display around the town advising members of the public how to use the equipment. 

Southwold defibrillator

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CFR Takeover Week

It's CFR Takeover week from 2nd to 6th June!

The East of England Ambulance Service will be using this week to focus on the hard work and dedication of all their Community First Responders. Get involved on Twitter using #CFRTakeover and follow the EEAS @EastEnglandAmb.

Make sure you also like & share the Rural Community Responders' Facebook page.

CFR Takeover Week

How to carry out CPR

One of the main skills a Community First Responder learns is how to carry out effective Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

CPR can be used when a patient is not breathing or their heart has stopped beating. CPR uses chest compressions and rescue breaths to keep blood and oxygen flowing around the patient's body. CPR has saved countless lives and is an excellent skill to learn. Responders are trained in CPR as part of their initial and ongoing monthly training however everyone can learn a simple CPR technique, known as hands-only CPR. This method focuses on using chest compressions without rescue breaths and is ideal for people who are not trained in CPR or feel uncomfortable carrying out rescue breaths.
 Hands only CPR

Hands Only CPR

1) Firstly, call 999 for an ambulance.

2) To carry out a chest compression: 
  • Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers. 
  • Position yourself with your shoulders above your hands. 
  • Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5–6cm on their chest. 
  • Repeat this until an ambulance arrives. 
  • Try to perform chest compressions at 100-120 chest compressions a minute.
(Source: NHS Choices).

You can find more details about how to perform CPR with rescue breaths here

Reduce your chances of a heart attack

Someone in the UK has just had a heart attack. And in five minutes time, someone else will have a heart attack too. 

However, there are currently over 1.35 million people in the UK who have survived a heart attack, thanks to ambulance personnel, emergency services, A&E staff and quick-thinking members of the public. Not to mention community first responders who are usually the first on scene and are trained in Basic Life Support. 

What is a heart attack?

Heart attack
(Image courtesy of

A heart attack is when part of the heart muscle loses its blood supply. 

The cause of most heart attacks is coronary heart disease which is when fatty deposits build up on the walls of the coronary arteries and cause narrowing and can lead to the formation of a plaque. If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms to repair the damaged wall and this clot can block the artery, preventing blood from reaching the heart. This is when a heart attack occurs. 

Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight all increase your chances of coronary heart disease.

Ways to keep your heart healthy
There are two main ways to reduce your chances of developing heart disease and therefore having a heart attack and these are; eat well and exercise. 

A healthy diet

Eat a healthy balanced diet
(Image courtesy of Freeimages)

A healthy balanced diet should consist of plenty of fruit & vegetables (aim for five portions) and wholegrain foods, some dairy, meat, eggs and fish and just a small amount of fatty sugary foods. Try to avoid trans fats and saturated fats and focus instead of monounsaturated (olive oil, rapeseed oil, almonds) and polyunsaturated fats (sunflower seeds, walnuts, oily fish). If possible, choose low salt foods too as salt can increase your blood pressure which increases your risk of heart disease. 

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has a great Healthy Eating section on their website.

Exercise for a healthy heart
(Image courtesy of Freeimages)

You don't need to run a marathon to keep fit - you can simply look for ways to move your body a little more throughout the day. The BHF recommends 150 minutes per week of physical activity and this can be broken down into short bursts during the day, for example a 30 minute walk. 

There's no need to join a gym either - you can incorporate more exercise into your normal day. For example, don't make a pile at the bottom of the stairs of things to take up - take each one upstairs straight away. Take the dog for a slightly longer than usual walk, run around the garden with the children, dance around the kitchen to the radio whilst cooking your (healthy) dinner. 

You can have a free NHS health check to assess your risk of heart disease, if you're aged between 40 and 74 years old - ask your GP for details.

If you need a little inspiration on how making little changes can make a big difference, watch this video.

2013 statistics

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has issued some statistics relating to community first responders (CFRs) in East Anglia for 2013:

In 2013:

  • CFRs were dispatched to 22,493 emergency calls by EEAST.
  • Suffolk CFRs attended 5,141 incidents.
  • There are 1200 individual CFRs and 270 CFR groups in East Anglia.
  • There are 60 CFR groups currently operating in Suffolk.
  • CFRs attended 662 cardiac arrests in East Anglia.
  • There are 171 public access defibrillators in the East of England - 36 of these are in Suffolk.

You can read the full report here .

What to do if you think you're having a heart attack

If you suspect you or someone you know is having a heart attack, please dial 999 immediately.

Heart attack symptoms include:

• Chest pain - usually located in the centre of your chest and can feel like a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing
• Pain in other parts of the body - it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and abdomen
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling sick or being sick
• An overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
• Feeling light headed
• Coughing or wheezing

The level of pain can vary significantly from person to person. For many the pain is severe and it has been described as feeling like ‘an elephant sitting on my chest’. For others, pain can be minor and similar to that experienced during indigestion.

Also, people with diabetes, some women, and older people do not experience any chest pain at all.

It is not the level of chest pain that is important in determining whether you are having a heart attack, it’s the overall pattern of symptoms that is important.

Do not worry if you have doubts about whether your symptoms indicate you are having a heart attack. Assume that you are having a heart attack and dial 999 to ask for an ambulance immediately.

Paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be called out when it is too late to save a person’s life.

While waiting for the ambulance
If you know that you are not allergic to aspirin and aspirin is easily available, slowly chew and then swallow an adult size tablet (300 mg) while you are waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

The aspirin will help to thin your blood and restore blood supply to your heart.

Cardiac arrest
In some cases a complication called ventricular arrhythmia can lead to the heart first going into spasm and then stopping beating altogether. This is known as sudden cardiac arrest.

Signs and symptoms suggesting a person has gone into cardiac arrest include:

•they appear to not be breathing
•they are not moving
•they do not respond to any stimulation, such as being touched or spoken to

If you think somebody has gone into cardiac arrest and you do not have access to a piece of equipment called an automated external defibrillator (see below) you should perform chest compressions as this can help restart the heart.

Chest compression
To carry out a chest compression, place the heel of your hand at the centre of the person’s chest, in between their nipples. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers. Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down (4-5cm) onto their chest.

Aim to do the chest compressions at a rate of 100 compressions a minute

Watch this video on CPR for more information about how to perform ‘hands-only’ CPR:


The above advice only applies to adults. For information about how to perform CPR in children, see how to resuscitate a child .

Automated external defibrillator
If you have access to a device called an automated external defibrillator, which is a portable electrical device that effectively ‘reboots’ the heart, you should use it. Most large organisations keep an AED as part of their first aid equipment.

- From
NHS Choices.

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