A RECORD number of people suffering cardiac arrests have been saved by North-East paramedics, according to new figures.

Ambulance bosses say members of the public are playing an increasing role in saving cardiac arrest victims by giving them heart compressions and using community defibrillators.

The good news came as The Northern Echo re-launched its A Chance To Live campaign earlier this week.

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Inspired by a father of four whose live was saved by a defibrillator after he collapsed at the Dolphin Centre, our campaign calls for more North-East gyms and leisure centres to have heart-start machines.

It followed a survey which showed that 80 per cent of private gyms in the region did not have a defibrillator.

In its best every month 38 per cent of patients attended to by the North East Ambulance Service in August were successfully resuscitated at the scene - a record for the service.

Since 2010, successful resuscitations performed where a heart has stopped beating have risen to 28 per cent - an increase of 11 per cent.

The improved chances of survival are mostly due to ambulance crews arriving quickly, and administering effective clinical treatments.

But a greater awareness among the general population about CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and a greater availability of automatic heart-start machines has also played a part.

A member of the public immediately performing chest compressions and rescue breaths when someone has suffered a cardiac arrest can double a patient's chances of survival.

Paul Fell, NEAS head of clinical care, said: "This year we've seen more people than ever attempting CPR, which means that more patients are being given the best chance of survival before ambulance staff arrive.

"Our work in the community last year enabled thousands of people to learn lifesaving skills, while the British Heart Foundation's TV advert starring Vinnie Jones was also very prominent."

NEAS monitors the proportion of cardiac arrest patients who are successfully resuscitated on scene by an ambulance crew, and then subsequently have a restored heart beat on arrival at hospital.

In 2010, 17 per cent of patients in cardiac arrest in the North-East were successfully resuscitated. In 2011, this increased to 21 per cent. And to date in 2012, 28 per cent of patients in cardiac arrest have been successfully resuscitated.

Lynsey McCabe, NEAS community resuscitation manager, said: "Not only are ambulance staff reaching people quickly and providing even effective treatment, but ordinary people are saving lives too.