Community Public Access Defibrillation (cPAD)

Picture above courtesy of cPAD shows Rosemary Conley with the defibrillator installation at Thrussington.

The national charity The Community HeartBeat Trust is working closely with ambulance services across the country to increase the penetration of defibrillators into the community, including the Leicestershire area.

Over the past 10 years ambulance services have had increasing targets for delivery of service, including the eight minutes target for Category A calls. Whilst in cities and towns this is much easier to achieve, in rural communities this is a much harder prospect. As a result the Ambulance Service was innovative in looking for additional ways to reach these demanding targets and in early 2000, the first Community First Responder schemes were established. In 2012 there are now several hundred of such schemes around the country, typified by community volunteers who give their time to support the Ambulance service in some Category A calls.

However one area has still needs addressing, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Typically these are rapid onset events and, depending upon the figures you consider, the life expectancy of the patient decreases up to 23% per minute from the event. Time is therefore critical, and it was for this reason that many static sites for defibrillators have been established, in airports, train stations and shopping centres.

Community Public Access defibrillation (cPAD) has only become a reality for local communities in the past couple of years, as the technology and the guidelines from the governing agencies such as the UK resuscitation council (UKRC) have been amended. The need for training has been reduced for the latest compliant defibrillation equipment and although still desirable, is not necessary even for members of the public. cPAD schemes place an automatic or semi automatic defibrillator, a device used to treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest, in a convenient location in a vandal resistant box. The equipment can be accessed by anyone to assist a patient with a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). In an event, 999 must be called and the ambulance service will give the access code to the box to enable the defibrillator to be used, although the keycode is also kept by locally trained people as well, and in some cases are unlocked.

All ambulance services across the country support the provision of cPAD schemes. Many have active programmes already underway, or in their plans for 2012. Many are also using the CHT to help support their plans. In the Leicestershire area, CHT are working closely with East Midlands Ambulance to bring more community based defibrillators to East Midlands villages, currently having some 50 projects underway and many more nationwide.

With the central co-ordination and direction of such charities as the Community HeartBeat Trust, standardisation of approach, standardisation of equipment, training and equipment support and increased purchasing power, is available to the benefit of the local community. It also enables a central source of liaison with the Ambulance services, PCTs and Department of Health, as well as other charities and organisations involved in health in the community.