AN ambulance service which covers Berkshire and Buckinghamshire has won a Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) award for a pioneering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillator communications campaign.

Entitled Defibrillators: A deadly game of hide and seek, it was named best healthcare campaign at the CIPR PRide Awards 2023 in the Anglia, Thames and Chiltern region at an event in Cambridge last week.

The campaign, led by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), was centred around the launch of new international resuscitation guidelines designed to improve survival from cardiac arrest with a specific focus on automated external defibrillator (AED) signage.

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The guidelines were formed following research and recommendations made by Professor Charles Deakin, divisional medical director and resuscitation lead at SCAS, who had warned the public was left playing ‘a deadly game of hide and seek’ when it comes to locating AEDs.

Prof Deakin and his colleagues' recommendations included ensuring that signs are illuminated at night, visible at all times, identifiable from a distance, that the direction and distance is indicated and that there are annual routine checks of all signage and AEDs.

The communication team at SCAS developed templates and a guidance pack for download on the new international signage guidelines and selected a school – Stowe School in Buckinghamshire – to be the first in the world to implement the new AED signage.

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SCAS has a rich history in supporting cardiac arrest and CPR awareness, including launching the first defibrillator finder app ‘Save a Life’, and this campaign was tied in with the annual World Restart a Heart Day event which occurs on October 16 every year.

“While publicly available AEDs have saved countless lives they remain underused, so many individuals who may potentially survive die because a defibrillator is not available to them,” said Prof Deakin, a professor of resuscitation and pre-hospital emergency medicine.

“Therefore, we must continue to break down the barriers to AED use while simultaneously continuing to raise awareness of the importance of CPR and both the guidelines and work such as this wide-ranging campaign is vital to making change.”

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Gillian Hodgetts, director of communications, marketing and engagement at SCAS, added: “We are delighted this work has been recognised for its impact and success with such a distinguished industry award.

“It is a great reflection of the dedication and desire right across SCAS to keep pushing forward with CPR and defibrillator awareness to help save more lives.”