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Rugby legend Shane Williams urges people to learn CPR and defibrillation

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Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams is fronting a new campaign to urge the people of Wales to learn lifesaving CPR and defibrillation skills as a recent survey reveals that less than half of Welsh adults are trained.

The former Wales wing is championing a new campaign called “Help is Closer Than You Think” and has today been named as a Save a Life Cymru ambassador.

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It comes as new data reveals that every year in Wales more than 6000 people will have a sudden cardiac arrest and around 80% of those will happen in the home. Almost one in four of us (24%) have witnessed someone collapse and possibly need bystander CPR and defibrillation intervention.

Yet, less than half of adults in Wales are confident in performing CPR: However, when people understand that on calling 999, the call taker will talk you through CPR and direct you to the nearest registered defibrillator, 73% of adults said that they would feel more confident to intervene.   

“Calling 999 and having a go with early CPR and defibrillation really does increase the chances of survival,” says Shane. That is why we are telling people if they find someone not breathing or not breathing normally to call 999 and start CPR immediately. The 999 call taker will tell you where your nearest defibrillator is, but never stop CPR to fetch a defibrillator – send someone else to fetch it for you.”

Save a Life Cymru is Wales’ national organisation to improve cardiac arrest survival in Wales. The Welsh Government-funded organisation promotes CPR and defibrillation within communities and encourages everyone in Wales to learn or to top up these lifesaving skills.

Shane is no stranger to losing someone to cardiac arrest. Last year, he threw his weight behind calls for every rugby club in Wales to have a defibrillator after Cwmllynfell RFC player Alex Evans suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away during a match. He has also previously revealed that when he was playing junior rugby, his friend Craig also collapsed and died while playing:

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“I think many of us probably feel that we don’t know how to perform CPR and we’re scared we might do something wrong or cause an injury, but we can all make a difference. Any CPR is better than no CPR and even if you’ve never had training, call 999 and they will tell you what to do.

It’s a common misconception that cardiac arrests happen to men of a certain age, but research shows that’s not the case.  Men and women of all ages and even children can have a sudden cardiac arrest.

Eleri Daniel from Penarth

Eleri Daniel from Penarth was just 47 when she went into cardiac arrest seven years ago:

“I suffered a cardiac arrest in 2015 when I was out on a run near my home. I was so lucky that a cardiac consultant was driving by at the time and saw me collapse. He acted quickly, phoned 999 and started CPR straight away. I was rushed to the University Hospital of Wales by Wales Air Ambulance and woke up two days later with no recollection of what had happened.

“I wasn’t aware that I had an underlying heart condition; I thought I was fit and healthy, which goes to show a cardiac arrest can happen to anyone. Without the quick actions of a bystander to start CPR, I wouldn’t be here today.

“Even if you aren’t trained in CPR, you need to have the confidence to act quickly and do something because ultimately, you could save a life.”

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A person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest will decrease by 10% with every passing minute if CPR and defibrillation is not performed.

Professor Len Nokes, Medical Director of Cardiff City FC and Chair of Save a Life Cymru – heartbreakingly lost his daughter Claire after she went into cardiac arrest in 2016 at the age of 25. Now he is on a mission to try to save lives through a new campaign:

“Our new campaign “Help is closer than you think’ aims to increase survival in Wales by encouraging people to learn CPR and use a defibrillator and be more confident and willing to intervene if a cardiac arrest happens. You are not on your own – call 999 and the call taker will give instructions for CPR and can locate the nearest registered defibrillator and despatch an ambulance crew. This is central to our lifesaving message.

In a bid to encourage more people to feel confident in performing life-saving skills, Save a Life Cymru is this week launching a TV advert which will be broadcast across Wales. The Ospreys have also teamed up with Save a Life Cymru to help raise awareness of CPR and defibrillation. Its medical team will be emblazoned with the Save a Life Cymru logo.

If a cardiac arrest happens, call 999. The call taker will tell you what to do, talk you through how to do CPR and direct you to the nearest registered defibrillator and they will also send an ambulance crew.

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You can find out more about CPR and defibrillation training at https://collaborative.nhs.wales/SaLC  

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