Heathrow Safest Place in London to have a Cardiac Arrest

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Heathrow Safest Place in London to have a Cardiac Arrest

  • Response time to medical emergencies far exceeds national target
  • Six times more likely to survive a cardiac arrest at Heathrow than anywhere else in London
  • Heathrow only UK airport to have specialist bike-riding paramedics
  • Passengers never more than 2 minutes away from a defibrillator
  • Over 100 front line managers trained in life saving first aid

Thanks to 180 heart-starting defibrillators, over 100 first aid trained front line staff and a specialist team of bicycle-riding London Ambulance Service paramedics, Heathrow Airport has been declared by the London Ambulance Service as having the highest cardiac arrest survival rate in London, outside of hospital. 

The team of 15 London Ambulance Service paramedics who make up the unique “Heathrow Cycle Response Unit” have an unparalleled response rate to medical emergencies. Recent statistics show that they reached 93.6% of the most serious and life threatening emergencies at the airport within eight minutes, far exceeding the national target which states that 75% of these emergencies are to be met within the same time frame. 

Of the 6.5 million people who travelled in June 2013, the bicycling paramedics treated nearly 900 passengers – with more than a fifth being treated for life-threatening conditions. Passengers are never more than 2 minutes away from a defibrillator. 

Easily identifiable in high-visibility uniforms and on call 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, the paramedics patrol the 632,064 square metres of terminals 1, 3, 4 and 5 assuring passengers and staff that world-class medical assistance is never far away. 

Carrying a medical kit which includes a heart-starting defibrillator, bag-and-mask resuscitator, blood-pressure monitor, burns dressings, oxygen and pain-relieving gas cylinders and even a maternity pack for delivering babies, the Heathrow Cycle Response Unit are sent out to all types of calls within the airport. 

London Ambulance Service Community Resuscitation Training Officer Martin Bullock said: “We’ve been working with Heathrow Airport for over 10 years and thanks to the defibrillators, its first aid trained staff and our cycle responders it has one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the world. The survival rate for witnessed cardiac arrests at the airport is six times as high as in London overall.”

“With a cardiac arrest every second counts and getting a defibrillator to the patient as soon as possible will greatly increase their chances of survival.” 

If a passenger is believed to be in a life threatening condition, the onsite ambulance is also called at the same time to make sure additional help comes as quickly as possible. In less serious cases, the bike paramedic or emergency medical technician is sent initially on their own and can then request further assistance if required. 

As part of Heathrow’s commitment to health and safety, staff members are encouraged to take advantage of the company–wide first aid courses held across the airport. 

Heathrow Health and Safety Advisor Angela Pragnell was recently recognised for her dedication to life saving by the London Ambulance Service after ensuring staff were fully trained on how to use the defibrillators and making sure the equipment was well maintained and accessible. She said: 

“I’ve learnt that quick intervention when someone suffers a cardiac arrest can make a difference between life and death. And by working closely with the ambulance service we try and make Heathrow as safe as possible for both staff and passengers.” 

Table showing the numbers of call outs for Heathrow Cycle Response Unit for June 2013: 

Terminal Cat A* Cat B** Total
1, 3

Definitions (London Ambulance Service):

* Cat A: Emergencies which are immediately life threatening. Ambulance services are expected to reach 75% of Category A calls within 8 minutes.

**Cat B: Patients whose condition is not immediately serious or life threatening; ambulance services are expected to attend these calls within 60 minutes.

• The overall cardiac arrest survival rate in London in 2011/12 was 10.9% per cent and in Heathrow was 74%.

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