In our latest "7 Questions" post, we talk with Litigation's Lawyer and First Responder Phil Knight to learn his perspective on cardiac arrest, his experiences as a First Responder and how we can help improve the survival statistics.
Below we share the questions we asked Phil which detail the reasons behind why he first decided to gain life-saving first aid skills and why he made it priority to ensure his place of work was equipped with the life-saving equipment to protect his colleagues against Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
- Can you remember when you first became aware of Sudden Cardiac Arrest and the dangers surrounding it?
I was 13 and on rowing boat on a lake with my mum and friends for my birthday. A toddler's mother had fallen asleep on dry land and the toddler had rolled into the lake and was unconscious and not breathing floating upside down, after watching my mum successfully carry out CPR, I decided I wanted to learn first aid. So in around 2000, I became involved with the British Red Cross at the age of 15 through the Duke of Edinburgh Award. At one of the first events I was covering providing first aid cover, someone had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest on the football pitch. Back then defibrillators were not readily available and we had to wait for the ambulance to come with a defibrillator. It is amazing how things have changed in the last 16 years in respect of the availability of public access defibrillators.
- What made you want to become a First Responder?
During the day I work as a lawyer in a corporate law firm and wanted to do something a little different from the day job whilst volunteering my time within the community! We had a first responder scheme within our area due to our remote location so I joined up and haven’t looked back. I regularly volunteer at the weekends and have attended a number of Sudden Cardiac Arrests. As a result of my first responding, I'm also a British Heart Start Instructor and enjoy providing courses to the business community in Edinburgh. I've also been responsible for installing two 24/7 public access defibrillators within the community.
- You chose defibshop.co.uk to equip your offices with 16 life-saving AEDs – why was it important for you to make sure you had these devices readily available in your places of work?
Given my volunteering as a first responder I understand the importance of early bystander CPR and defibrillation – it really can make the difference between life and death. Given I spend most of the day in the office; I thought it made sense that our office had a defibrillator. So, I prepared a summary for our executive board at DWF LLP on the benefits of having defibrillators installed at all 16 of our UK and International Offices which was immediately approved and within a matter of weeks, we had defibrillators in all of our offices supplied by defibshop.co.uk. I'm really proud that our business decided to become a heart safe business and given our central locations within various business districts across the UK, we have shared the location of our defibrillators with nearby business and shops. I only hope that other businesses adopt the same approach.
- Hot topic at the moment: do you think CPR and awareness of AEDs should be incorporated into the National Curriculum?
Without a doubt! By teaching children lifesaving skills they will always have them, ready to help either their classmates and families, and will take these skills with them wherever they go for the rest of their lives. Simple skills really do save lifes.
- Do you think enough precautions are put in place to protect the general public against sudden cardiac arrest?
I think we are getting there but there is still a lot to be done. The key is education and busting some of the myths people have about carrying out bystander CPR and using a defibrillator. It is amazing how peoples attitudes quickly change when after being shown a demonstration on how to use a defibrillator, they realise how easy there are to use, no training is required and most importantly, you can cause absolutely no damage!
As a litigation lawyer, the question I always get when providing training is: "can we be sued for carrying out CPR?". As a bystander carrying out CPR the answer is NO! No one has ever been successfully sued in the UK for carrying out CPR.
- What changes would you like to see being made to increase the chances of survival for victims of cardiac arrest?
Aside from CPR being on the National Curriculum, I would love to see public buildings, sports grounds and offices being required by law to have defibrillators within the premises. It just makes sense! Firefighting equipment is a basic statutory requirement yet unfortunately the installation of a defibrillator is not!
Having recently installed two public access defibrillators in a rural setting it has surprised me how few public access defibrillators there are in more urban locations! I am really excited that Edinburgh is to benefit from a new St John Scotland project to install life-saving defibrillators in strategic sites across the city centre.
- How do you plan on raising awareness of cardiac arrest in the hope of making a difference?
By continuing to raise awareness of cardiac arrest through social media, specifically Twitter. I am also keen to help raise awareness of cardiac arrest within the business community and offering training to local businesses and organisations by posting on LinkedIn.
I've also been assisting with the Save a Life Scotland campaign which aims to save 1000 lives, train 500,000 Scots in CPR and position Scotland as an international leader in out of hours cardiac arrest management by 2020. This campaign really has put CPR on the agenda across Scotland!