Figures released by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) show that more bystanders than ever before are attempting to save the lives of people in cardiac arrest.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood round the body, starving the brain of oxygen and causing the patient

to fall unconscious and stop breathing.

A report from the ambulance service revealed that bystander CPR took place in eight out of 10 cases of cardiac arrest last year; a figure that stood at just over five out of 10 cases in 2014.

Chest compressions, rescue breaths and use of a defibrillator are the only way to help a person in cardiac arrest – without these interventions the person will die.

Use of publicly accessible defibrillators has more than quadrupled in the past five years, but remains relatively low with community-based defibrillators used on just 9.5 percent of the eligible 3,591 patients.

Around one in 10 people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest but where members of the public stepped in and successfully resuscitated a patient before the ambulance arrived, three quarters of people survived and were discharged from hospital.

With members of the public able to make a real difference to the lives of people in their communities, NWAS has launched its new ‘cardiac smart’ accreditation scheme to celebrate and recognise those who actively help to increase survival rates from cardiac arrest.

Organisations, businesses, schools and other publicly accessible locations are invited to apply for ‘CardiacSmart’ status by taking active steps to make their community safer and healthier.

Successful applicants will be awarded one of three levels of accreditation status; accredited, accredited+ and accredited partner, all of which are determined by specific criteria. This includes having a readily available defibrillator that is checked and maintained regularly and making a commitment to providing life-saving training.

Details of how to apply for the accreditation scheme can be found at