Improving the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest in the North East

Improving the chances of survival for cardiac arrest patients is something close to North East Ambulance Service’s heart and their latest initiative is set to do just that.

If you or someone you cared about was having a cardiac arrest and just a short walk away from where you were, there was someone trained in lifesaving skills, would you want them to come and help?

Approximately 60,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest out of hospital in England every year and of these, 28,000 patients will have resuscitation started or continued by the ambulance service. Survival rates for these patients is 8.6%. This is significantly lower than for populations in other developed countries like Holland (21%), Seattle (20%) and Norway (25%).

The current rate of initial bystander CPR in England is reported as being 43% compared to up to 73% in other countries.

North East Ambulance Service has now switched on GoodSam, a mobile app that alerts community first responders to an incident, in an attempt to boost the numbers of people who survive cardiac arrest in the region.

GoodSAM connects with a community of first aid trained responders, willing to assist during a cardiac arrest.

NEAS will be switching on the system in the North East and inviting its clinically trained staff, trained in basic first aid and qualified to perform lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to register initially.

GoodSAM will automatically notify nearby GoodSAM responders of a medical emergency. The platform connects those in need with those who have the skills to provide critical help before the emergency services arrive. The app is free to download on all smartphones.

GoodSAM is already working in partnership with ambulance services in London, North West, Wales and East Midlands as well as further afield in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, USA, Canada and South Africa.

Gareth Campbell, Clinical Operations Manager says, “This is excellent news for the North East population and means that those special skills our workforce uses every day to help save lives are even more accessible.  By ensuring a patient has a clear airway and quality CPR is in place in those first few minutes, they are more likely to achieve a good outcome.”

With the system now switched on, the NEAS emergency operations centre will alert the three nearest responders to life threatening incidents and simultaneously dispatch an ambulance, giving the patient the best possible chance of survival. The partnership will not impact on or substitute standard ambulance dispatch, with crews continuing to be sent to scene in the usual way.

When a volunteer is alerted, they will be able to accept the alert via the GoodSAM app and make their way to the location of the incident. If a volunteer responder is not in a position to accept the alert, it can be declined and diverted to the next nearest responder.

Campbell continues, “Having seen how successfully this app works elsewhere, we wanted to bring GoodSAM to the North East for the benefit of our region’s patients. Thanks to funding from NESTA, we have been able to work in partnership with the GoodSAM team to bring this app to the North East.”


NEAS already has a team of Community First Responders who are everyday members of the general public trained by NEAS in basic first aid and life support. They are provided with oxygen and a defibrillator and are deployed by NEAS to life threatening emergencies, such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, cardiac arrests, and unconsciousness, if they are the nearest resource, followed by the next nearest emergency care crew.

This app provides an opportunity for those with first aid skills who volunteer and work for the service to join the robust community of first responders already working within the North East.

Campbell adds, “Responders will be able to provide immediate care to a patient where every second counts, administering life-saving first aid while an ambulance is on its way. A patient who suffers a cardiac arrest stands a much better chance of survival if someone with a defibrillator can attend the patient in the first minutes of collapse.”

Professor Mark Wilson, GoodSAM’s Medical Director and Co-Founder, said: “If a patient has a cardiac arrest, it’s the first few minutes after the incident that determine the outcome – life, death, or long-term brain damage”. 


“There are first aid trained people all around us but usually the first they know of a neighbour having a cardiac arrest is an ambulance appearing in their street. Our work with Ambulance Services, allows us to harness the lifesaving skills in the minutes before ambulance arrival. GoodSAM has saved lives globally and we look forward to working with NEAS to bring the benefits to the North East.”

Steve Dunn from Newton Aycliffe in County Durham has been a community first responder in the North East for eight years after he found himself coincidentally at the scene of two serious road traffic collisions in which he assisted patients whilst an ambulance was travelling.  Having formerly been registered with GoodSam in London, he’s really pleased to be able to connect in his own region.


He explains, “I was alerted by GoodSAM to an incident in St Pancras when I was in London recently on a business trip and I was really overwhelmed by the number of people nearby who also got the alert.  I was first on scene and between those of us who attended, the patient had the best chance of a good outcome.  On this occasion it wasn’t a cardiac arrest luckily.  It was really surprising and reassuring that so many people were willing to stop what they were doing and help and it’s great that we can do the same here.”

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