A breath of new life | Daily News

A breath of new life

Awareness workshops on bystander CPR conducted across SL on World Restart a Heart Day:
Participants receiving training on bystander CPR.
Participants receiving training on bystander CPR.

The College of Anaesthesiologists and Intensivists of Sri Lanka celebrated World Restart a Heart Day and World Anaesthesia Day on October 16.

According to National Coordinator of the Working Committee on Resuscitation, World Restart a Heart Day Organiser for Sri Lanka, Dr. Nilmini Wijesuriya, this day was launched by the European Resuscitation Council to raise awareness on out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests among the public and to educate them how to help restart the heart of someone who suffers from cardiac arrest. Since last year, this has become a global event.

Dr. Wijesuriya said workshops to train the public in bystander CPR were conducted in 17 places across all nine districts under the guidance of consultant anaesthetists. The main event was held at the Viharamahadevi Open Air Theatre from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm with the participation of professionals from various fields, including popular artistes, media personnel and journalists, teachers, schoolchildren, armed forces, and the public. Training sessions were also carried out at Galle Sports Complex, in front of Kandy Dalada Maligawa, Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, Mahatma Gandhi Park,Batticaloa, shopping complex in Jaffna and schools in Ratnapura and hospital premises in Chilaw, Embilipitiya and other cities.

“Out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests can occur anywhere, any time and most often, it happens at home. During a sudden cardiac arrest, the normal beating of the heart stops and the pumping of blood is interrupted.

After three minutes, the brain starts dying as it is very sensitive to the lack of oxygen and if no help arrives within 10 minutes, the patient has no chance of surviving. Cardiac arrest is not as the same as a heart attack and the commonest reason for cardiac arrest is a heart attack. Other reasons such as the abnormal rhythm of the heart, injury, anaphylaxis, trauma and drowning can also cause cardiac arrest. After cardiac arrest, the victim will be unresponsive and not breathe or will breathe abnormally,” she said.

“Nearly 2,000 people die daily in the world due to sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Although we have no data about Sri Lanka, if a person suffers from cardiac arrest, the chances of surviving are only about one in 10 globally. If a bystander starts administering CPR (heart massage and mouth-to-mouth breathing), the chances of survival will double. Using a defibrillator to deliver an electric shock to the heart may restart the heart,” she said.

To help a victim of sudden cardiac arrest, one must be sure that the person is suffering from cardiac arrest and is not just unconscious.


Follow the simple steps mentioned below if you encounter someone unconscious:


* Check for any response from the victim - in cardiac arrest, the victim may not be responsive.

* Check for breathing - tilt the head back, lift the chin and check whether the victim is breathing. In cardiac arrest, breathing is either absent or abnormal - just a few gasps. A non-healthcare professional does not have to check for a pulse.


If you suffer from cardiac arrest, either call 1990 Suwaseriya and follow instructions or if there is anybody else with you, ask that person to provide chest compressions (heart massage) promptly. As it is the most important thing for survival, do not interrupt compressions.


* Place both hands in the centre of the chest and compress at a rate of 100–120 per minute, hard and fast, five-six centimetres in depth in the beat of Sunil Shantha’s ‘Dakuna Negenahira’ song.

* After 30 compressions, two mouth-to-mouth breaths must be delivered in a ratio of 30:2. This may slow down the brain damage. If a bystander is unwilling to perform mouth-to-mouth breathing, doing compressions is better than doing nothing. If it is a family member, most of the people would be happy to give rescue breaths.

* Continue until emergency services arrive and take over from you.

* On occasions, when performing chest compressions, it is possible that you may crack ribs, this is normal and not something to worry about.

Participants at awareness workshops.

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