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Restart a Heart 2020

08 October 2020

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is giving people the opportunity to learn how to save lives safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Trust, in association with the Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) and other partner agencies, will host online cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillator training sessions for Restart a Heart Day (RSAH) 2020 on Friday 16 October. 

According to RCUK, coronavirus has reduced people’s willingness to perform CPR, and social distancing has limited opportunities for people to learn how to do it.

RSAH 2020 aims to help overcome these fears by teaching safe, effective CPR to give people the confidence and skills to save lives from sudden cardiac arrest.

RSAH falls under our Trust wide Saving Lives Together campaign, more details of which can be found here:

Sharifa Hashem, SWASFT Patient Engagement Manager, said: “We know that CPR saves lives, and the more people learn CPR, the more lives we can save together.

“Instead of doing face-to-face events this year, we’ll be running a series of Facebook live events to teach people how and when to carry-out CPR safely, how to use defibrillators, and to answer any questions they may have.

“Fewer than one in 10 people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest. But we know that calling 999, performing hands-only CPR, and using a defibrillator can make a significant difference to someone’s chance of survival.

“During COVID-19 many people have continued to perform CPR, which demonstrates the community spirit in the South West.

“We want to encourage as many people to join us at these sessions - whether they are at school, work or home. The more of us who know what to do, the more lives we can potentially save.”

Cathy Angell, 38, from near Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire has shared her story after she survived a cardiac arrest.

Cathy stopped breathing while her son was having a riding lesson in April 2018. People around her called 999 and began CPR and responders used a defibrillator to keep her alive. She needed emergency heart surgery in hospital, and now lives with an internal defibrillator to regulate her heart rate.

She credited the bystanders’ actions for giving her a “second shot at life”.

Cathy said: “Without the CPR I wouldn’t still be here. I would urge anyone to learn how to do effective CPR, because it really does save lives.”


Carl Botham, 54, has also urged people to learn CPR, after his heart stopped at a Swindon hotel in April 2019.

Staff called 999 and began resuscitation, before paramedics arrived to continue CPR and shock him with a defibrillator. He was put on a life support machine in hospital, and went on to make an incredible recovery.

Carl said: “I’m so pleased the people there were able to do CPR so quickly and so very well.

“Four months after my sudden cardiac arrest, I had the most amazing day giving my daughter away at her wedding. It was the proudest day of my life, and a day I wouldn’t have had without the CPR. Now I am a very proud and lucky grandad to a little girl called Grace.

“I would ask everyone to learn this life skill, because you never know if and when you might need to help save someone’s life. I will always be thankful to Chris and Andy who saved mine!”

To sign-up to attend SWASFT’S RSAH Day on Facebook Live, click here:

The training sessions, lasting 30 minutes each, will take place at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 7pm.


  1. The group photos were taken before the Coronavirus pandemic.
  2. To watch Cathy tell her story, click here:
  3. For interviews, please email

Key messages:

  • A sudden cardiac arrest is an urgent medical emergency when the heart stops beating, abruptly and without warning. If this happens, blood stops pumping round the body, and the brain is starved of oxygen. That causes the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing.
  • Anyone can be affected by cardiac arrest at any time - and cardiac arrests haven’t stopped during COVID-19. In fact, early data shows they have increased - making learning CPR more important than ever.
  • When someone collapses and stops breathing normally, it is important to quickly call 999, perform hands-only CPR and use a defibrillator. This gives that person their best chance of life.
  • Don’t be afraid to get hands on! Hands-only CPR reduces your risk of catching an infection, and without intervention the person will quickly die.
  • Help the NHS save lives by getting hands on before the paramedics arrive.

Supplementary stats:

  • Survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrest remain stubbornly low in the UK, with fewer than one in ten people surviving.
  • Thousands of lives could be saved every year if CPR was taught more widely.
  • More than 30,000 have a cardiac arrest out of hospital in the UK every year, and every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces the chance of survival by up to 10%.
  • When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, performing immediate CPR can help double their chance of survival in some cases.
  • Most episodes (around 80%) of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest occur in the home, highlighting the potential benefit of family members trained in CPR.

 How to do CPR during a time of increased risk of infection:

  1. If someone is collapsed and not breathing normally, do not put your face next to theirs
  2. Call for an ambulance
  3. Use a towel or piece of clothing and lay it over the mouth and nose
  4. Do not do mouth to mouth
  5. Start chest compressions to the tempo of the Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive.
  6. Use a Public Access Defibrillator if available.


Restart a Heart (RSAH) is an annual initiative led by Resuscitation Council UK in partnership with The British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross, St John Ambulance, and Yorkshire Ambulance Service which aims to increase the number of people surviving out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. In 2017 the initiative went global with the formation of World Restart a Heart.

On and around 16 October each year, an alliance of partners all over the world (including UK Ambulance Services, Medical Schools, and Fire and Rescue Services) come together to increase public awareness of cardiac arrests and increase the number of people trained in lifesaving CPR. They do this by organising and facilitating training events, and also providing opportunities for people to learn CPR digitally in the safety and comfort of their own home. You can view these digital resources at  

In 2019 more than 291,000 people learnt CPR as part of Restart a Heart. This year sees the seventh Restart a Heart and the third World Restart a Heart campaign.

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South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: