A CARDIAC arrest survivor whose son helped keep him alive has backed a major campaign being launched today to save hundreds of lives across the North-East and North Yorkshire every year.

Landscape architect Nick Leeming, who suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed yards from his Darlington home last year, said he was delighted with the drive by leading charities and the North East and Yorkshire ambulance services to increase survival rates for those who have out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

As part of the Restart A Heart campaign, The British Heart Foundation has released evidence that 85 per cent of people in the North-East would be reluctant to perform CPR on heart attack victims.

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Results of the University of Warwick survey showed contrastingly, in Yorkshire 43 per cent of those polled would feel confident about carrying out the life-saving technique.

In addition, the North-East Ambulance Service has found survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests is particularly low in the region, at just 6.9 per cent, while in Norway, where more than 90 per cent are taught CPR, survival rates are above 20 per cent.

The poll of 4,306 adults concluded the main reasons for reluctance to step in were fear of causing more harm than good and lacking the skills and knowledge to perform CPR.

The study also found while 76 per cent of people in the North-East would offer a stranger a seat on the bus, and 85 per cent would give directions to a stranger, only 41 per cent of people in the region would feel confident giving CPR to a stranger.

And just 17 per cent of people in the region were able to identify the two signs of a cardiac arrest, which are when someone has collapsed, unresponsive is not breathing normally.

Mr Leeming's 17-year-old son Tom, a Barnard Castle School pupil, was one of two people who performed CPR on him until medical help arrived on the scene.

Mr Leeming said: “I am very grateful and fortunate that he knew what to do. Outside of hospital if you have a cardiac arrest the chances of survival are very low unless you start CPR straightaway.

“This is a great campaign and I would encourage anybody to learn basic CPR, it doesn’t take very long and you don’t know when you or a loved one might need it.”

Mike Jones, who collapsed in cardiac arrest while playing in a table tennis match in Chester-le-Street, said "everyone should know how to deliver CPR" and also backed the drive.

He said he was "eternally grateful" to PCSO Mark Rodgers, of Durham Police, and another man, Robbie Beckwith, who had started CPR immediately.

Those behind the Restart a Heart campaign said the benefits of performing CPR far outweigh the risks, as survival rates are almost zero if people collapse and get no support until paramedics arrive.

Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around ten per cent.

The campaign will see the a drive to train thousands of people across the region in the largest ever CPR training event of its kind.

North-East and North Yorkshire secondary schools, employers and community groups are being urged to apply for our free training kits.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, added: “CPR may be the difference between life and death for hundreds of people every year in the North-East and North Yorkshire who suffer a cardiac arrest. Every second counts, and it simply isn’t enough to hope that someone who knows CPR is present.”

North East Ambulance Service operations manager Gareth Campbell said: “There is nothing more disheartening to an ambulance crew than arriving on scene to a patient where CPR is not in progress when it could have been. Equipping our youngsters with this vital life skill means we can ultimately save more lives.”

A free CPR training event is taking place at the BHF furniture and electrical store, St Cuthberts Retail Park, Darlington, on October 20 between 10am and noon and 2pm to 4pm.

For details of the event, contact 01325-271850 and to apply for training kits, visit bhf.org.uk/cpr