We’ve pushed the button on our cardiac arrest initiative!

Today we announced that our cardiac arrest campaign to save 50 local lives every year in Grampian is now live.  

Since 2001, we have been instrumental in saving hundreds of lives throughout Scotland and with the launch of our Sandpiper Wildcat campaign, our service now extends to cardiac arrest emergencies in the north-east specifically.

The Sandpiper Trust saves lives in rural Scotland by equipping trained, volunteer responders with Sandpiper bags which contain all the necessary equipment required in an emergency.  Working with the Scottish Ambulance Service, Sandpiper responders are often the first to arrive at the scene of an incident.

The launch, held at the Royal British Legion in Inverurie, is a culmination of two years of planning involving extensive fundraising and recruitment drives. Nearly 90% of Wildcat’s £850,000 target has been reached and 200 volunteer responders are now primed and ready to respond to a suspected cardiac arrest emergency in their area.

Claire Maitland, MBE and Sandpiper Trustee explained “When someone has a cardiac arrest every single second counts.  A number of factors, including geography and spread of towns and villages, affect response time and mean that cardiac arrest patient outcomes locally are some of the worst in Europe. We hope that they can be improved drastically through our Wildcat initiative, which is also a joint collaboration with BASICS Scotland and the emergency services. From April 2015 to March 2016, there were 446 cardiac arrests in Grampian, less than 20 survived. We are committed to beating these statistics, saving 50 more lives every year.”

During the launch event, 50 volunteer responders, including Drs, nurses and individuals with no previous medical backgrounds, were equipped with defibrillators, Vehicle Locator Systems and other necessary supplies. The remaining 150 Wildcat responders have already received their kits. In addition, all have undertaken rigorous training, provided by The Sandpiper Wildcat Training Team.

Project leader, Keri Fickling commented; “Today is not only a major milestone for Sandpiper and the Wildcat team, but it’s also a defining moment in the strategic approach to pre-hospital care. Our cardiac arrest initiative is a first of its kind in the world. Never before have defibrillators been strategically placed based upon historic cardiac arrest data. We are excited about the prospect of setting a new standard for out of hospital care and the impact it will have, not just in our own communities but much further afield.”

Keri continued “As of today, 40 of these communities now have a dedicated Wildcat team in place, with each individual responder registered and available through the Scottish Ambulance Service on a rota basis. In addition, 8 more areas will be activated in the coming weeks.

“In many instances, we will work with existing individuals or groups such as Community First responders, however in 14 locations; Sandpiper Wildcat will provide additional emergency medical coverage where previously there was no locally based support and the nearest ambulance depot is located more than 8 miles away.”

The initiative has been created in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service. Milne Weir, General Manager North explained “The Scottish Ambulance Service is continually exploring new ways of working to ensure we are saving more lives than ever before. We are proud to work in partnership with Sandpiper Wildcat and communities across the Grampian region to enhance our co-responding network and provide life-saving care to patients experiencing cardiac arrest.”

Commenting on its relationship with the Trust, Dave Bywater, Consultant Paramedic and Lead for Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest, Scottish Ambulance Service added “We have worked closely with and benefitted from the fantastic work of the Sandpiper Trust for over 15 years. Working in partnership with voluntary groups is not a new concept, however this is a fairly new type of response in terms of Cardiac Responders which we are delighted to facilitate. The development of networks of Sandpiper Wildcat responders will undoubtedly enhance the resources available to respond to cardiac arrest patients as quickly as possible, vital given that survival chances reduce by 10% every minute without intervention.”

Closing the event, Keri added “As we push the button on Wildcat, it’s important that we thank everyone who has helped us get to this point. All those who fundraised, Community groups, businesses, local bodies, NHS Grampian Endowments, emergency services and all of our volunteers have been wonderfully supportive, having recognised the need for our work in their own communities and the life-saving role that we play.”

One volunteer responder, who attended tonight’s launch, knows this only too well. Keith Cruickshank’s life was saved by a quick-thinking neighbour who performed CPR and a paramedic team who were able to shock his heart with a defibrillator. Four years on, Keith and his wife Katie, from Huntly, were the projects first responders without previous medical experience. Keith’s story is a prime example of the positive impact of both early CPR and defibrillation.

While 200 responders have already been recruited, in order to reach its goal of achieving 24hr coverage throughout the 50 communities, the charity is asking more people to join its team of volunteers. Keri stressed “Many Wildcat volunteers have no previous medical background, just a willingness to make a difference in their own communities, so don’t let that be a barrier to signing up. If you’re based locally and have time to give we’d love to hear from you.”

For further details email admin@sandpiperwildcat.co.uk