The Chain of Survival

The Chain of Survival

Chain of Survival

What is the Chain of Survival?

Successful resuscitation following a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) requires implementation of a set of coordinated actions known as the Chain of Survival. Each of the links in the Chain of Survival is interdependent, the success of each link dependent on the effectiveness of those preceding it.

The principles of the Chain of Survival, which applies to emergencies where the patient is not breathing and has no pulse, involve four stages:
  1. Early recognition and call for help
  2. Early CPR
  3. Early defibrillation
  4. Post resuscitation care
The chain of survival aims to demonstrate the interrelationship between key stages of resuscitation and emphasises the need for all links to be effective in order to optimise the chances of survival. The contribution of each of the four links diminishes rapidly as patients succumb at each stage and the actual attrition rate results in rapidly decreasing numbers of patients progressing along the chain.

The revised representation of the Chain of Survival as shown above adjusts the area of each link in order to graphically represent the flow of patients through the chain. The greatest benefit in improving outcome will be achieved by focussing on improving care at links in the chain where there is the greatest number of patients.

Did you know?

You can call 999 or 112 for an Ambulance
112 is the European emergency number for people in distress and you can call it anywhere in Europe to get Police, Ambulance or Fire assistance.


How can you help?

If you know somebody who is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, then call for an Ambulance immediately, this is the first part of the chain of survival and can make the biggest contribution. By calling 999 or 112 immediately when you suspect a heart attack, you may be able to prevent a cardiac arrest.

If you notice somebody in cardiac arrest or they have gone in to cardiac arrest after you have called for help, then you can start CPR early. This will buy them as much time as possible, until help arrives. When help arrives, presuming you are fit to do so, continue doing CPR until you are asked to stop as the Ambulance crew may have kit to set up and you can continue to help by doing this. If you are unsure how to do CPR, you can learn by signing up to one of our free CPR and AED awareness courses, with more information here, they only take a couple of hours and we have various dates and locations available. If you do not have the time to do this, then always remember that when you call for an Ambulance, the call operator will explain how you can do CPR and will coach you through it, so there is always a way you can help. Just remember to call for help!

If whilst you are doing CPR there is a bystander, you may be able to get them to get a nearby AED (Automated External Defibrillator), this will start stage 3 in the Chain of Survival and may be able to restart their heart. There are many publicly accessible AED's available now, and more being fundraised for, so make sure you know where your nearest one is! You never know when you may need it! You don' have to have training to use one of these devices, you can just switch it on and it tells you how to do everything, it will not shock unless required, so it is fully safe. You can attend one of our CPR and AED awareness courses where we will show you just how easy they are to use, see here for more information.

Remember to call for help!

Even if you are unable to do anything else, by calling for help sooner, you give the person a better chance of survival as help will arrive sooner. If you are willing to do CPR, this will buy them even more time!

Watch the video below with Professor Tom Quinn, who explains various things, including the Chain of Survival and how important members of the public are to the Chain of Survival.

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