Do-It-Yourself has a nice ring to it: Brave citizens having a go at something that would normally require a seasoned professional with extensive training. DIY as a way of having fun, self-realisation and a satisfying feeling of having achieved something even if the results are often not perfect the first time around.
Gavin Perkins and co-workers have now taken the concept of DIY to the next level: How about DIY resuscitation? Kick-starting the heart and breathing in someone who has collapsed in the street or in a shopping centre.
To be fair: The group from United Kingdom did not start this idea. They merely collected data on cardiac arrests in London and the East Midlands. GoodSam is an application that alerts the smart phone owner if there is a cardiac arrest near by. They can then choose to attend. Or not.
GoodSam has in excess of 1.5 Million users worldwide. But given that is is a global initiative the chances that someone is close by who is holding the GoodSam app when someone's heart stops is not that great. But in big cities with a higher density of people there could be a chance.
In the review of cardiac arrests from London and East Midlands an app-user was close by in 7% and 23% of the cardiac arrests and one is six app-user responded in each region.
Now comes the important bit: The chance of survival was twice as high for people who had a GoodSam user trying to restart the heart than for those who did not have a GoodSame user (means just the normal emergency response and maybe some bystander involvement).
Now GoodSam users are not entirely DIY: they have to have undertaken training for restarting the heart or hold a medical qualification. But even those who have had training in medical professions don't practice this skill often. Ever since hospitals introduced systems to measure how sick someone is the number of people who receive this treatment has dramatically dropped. Doctors who work with sick people in UK hospitals receive regular training every three years. Even they don't need the skill often and if it is in hospital it is usually as part of a team with 3-5 other people who had the same or more training. The restart a heart and save a life with that little practice shows how important the simple techniques are that are being taught.
Starting a heart with GoodSam app-users is twice as good as not having it. Where the alternative is death this seems impressive. Have you considered your skills of restarting a heart? The Resuscitation council and the British Heart Foundation offer national training events around the time of my birthday on the 16th of October each year. Why not make a DIY birthday present?