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South Western Ambulance Charity supports improved care for cardiac arrest patients

Across the UK, survival following an out of hospital cardiac arrest is around 9%.  For every minute that a cardiac arrest patient does not receive CPR and defibrillation; their chance of survival reduces by 10%.

A cardiac arrest is when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body. When your heart stops pumping blood, your brain is starved of oxygen. This causes you to fall unconscious and stop breathing.   Without immediate treatment or medical attention, a person experiencing a cardiac arrest will die.

The South Western Ambulance Charity is proud to be supporting improvements in Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OOHCA) survival rates by funding a new Clinical Lead role at the South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT)

Ollie Zorab took on the Charity-funded role of Clinical Lead for Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest in March 2022 following a career of over a decade working as a front-line paramedic in the South West.

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Ollie came to SWASFT in 2009 after successfully completing a three-year graduate programme with the North West Ambulance Service.  Since joining the Ambulance Service Ollie has worked in a number of roles, blending his time on the front-line with work in Quality Improvement focusing on improving care for patients experiencing cardio vascular problems and specialising in cardiac arrest.

In 2014 Ollie took a 12 month career break to join youth development charity, Raleigh International, spending time in Borneo and Nicaragua as an Expedition Paramedic.


In 2016 Ollie began supporting the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) as a specialist paramedic in critical care.  Ollie has been able to continue his vital work with DSAA since becoming the cardiac arrest Clinical Lead at SWASFT and is splitting his time between the two roles.


“My aim in this role is two-fold; Firstly, I am here to provide guidance to my Ambulance colleagues to ensure the best possible, and most appropriate, care is offered to patients in cardiac arrest.  This includes providing clinical support to crews on resuscitation, post resuscitation care and ensuring that best interest decisions can be made.

The second element to my role is to help increase the cardiac arrest survival rate through public engagement and encouraging bystanders to act prior to Ambulance arrival by delivering CPR and using a publicly available defibrillator. ”


The Resuscitation Council UK highlights the importance of the Chain of Survival, a sequence of four steps that together maximise the chance of survival following cardiac arrest:

  1. Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and calling for help;

  2. Prompt initiation of CPR;

  3. Performing defibrillation as soon as possible;

  4. Optimal post resuscitation care. 


Ollie goes on to explain the importance of accessing and using a defibrillator to significantly increase the chance of survival following cardiac arrest:


“Currently in the South West around 70% of OOHCA patients receive bystander CPR but less than 10% of these patients have a defibrillator in situ on Ambulance arrival.  The first few minutes following cardiac arrest are vital and a CPR-defibrillator combination could double a patient’s chances of survival.  The majority of cardiac arrests happen in the home or workplace and just as you would always know where your nearest fire exit is, you should also know where your nearest defibrillator is.”


The South Western Ambulance Service carries out around 3,000 cardiac arrest resuscitation attempts each year and Ollie is looking to develop innovative initiatives to increase community resilience to ensure the best possible outcomes through early intervention.  Specific focus will be given to areas in the South West with higher incidents of OOHCA and inequality of bystander intervention due to cultural or gender-based barriers.  


“In this role I hope to be able to empower early bystander intervention so that more people experiencing an out of hospital cardiac arrest will receive vital CPR and a life-saving defibrillator shock.  Achieving a return of spontaneous circulation before Ambulance arrival can increase quality of life following cardiac arrest by enabling Ambulance crews to focus on the critical post resuscitation care.”

To find out where your nearest defibrillator is visit:

Ollie’s role as Clinical Lead for Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest has been made possible thanks to a grant gratefully received by the South Western Ambulance Charity from NHS Charities Together.

Donations fund a new Responder Car


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Support from NHS Charities Together

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Duchy Grant in action

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If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us on 0300 3690108 or email

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