Devon Air Ambulance has celebrated the success of the start of its new series of public training days, one of the first of which was held in Totnes.

Cardiac arrest is the most common reason for the air ambulance’s emergency medical team to be called to help.

Last year the charity’s crews attended 333 patients who were suffering a cardiac arrest and this year they’ve so far attended 118 more patients whose heart had stopped beating.

As part of its ‘Help with all your Heart’ campaign, Devon Air Ambulance launched a public survey to find out how people felt about helping someone in cardiac arrest and what might stop them from stepping in to help.

Nearly two thirds of respondents said they would be willing to step in and help, but felt they were lacking two vital elements that would enable them to do so: knowledge and confidence.

In response, the charity decided to launch five CPR and defibrillator training days across Devon, designed to combat these barriers.

The first two were held at the Royal Seven Stars – which was arranged by Totnes Rotary Club - and in Bideford, and were attended by more than 120 people.

The sessions were delivered by two Devon Air Ambulance specialist paramedics in critical care who have first-hand experience of dealing with patients suffering from cardiac related problems every day.

The crew also welcomed questions from those assembled and were pleased to dispel any myths and concerns.

The event also included several clinical crew-led sessions including a presentation, support for the audience in distinguishing the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, as well as a hands-on learning about how to perform effective CPR and use a defibrillator.

Charity spokeswoman, Ginette Gisborne, said: “We are incredibly pleased to be able to deliver the first two of our five CPR and defibrillator training days.

“The feedback from those who have attended so far has been fantastic and we are thrilled that so many people have left the session feeling much more knowledgeable about cardiac arrest and, importantly, that they now feel they have the confidence to step in and help someone suffering a cardiac arrest before specialist medical help arrives.

“Statistics show that a staggering 75% of cardiac arrests happen at home, so I would encourage people to join us if they can, so they can feel prepared and gain the extra knowledge and the confidence to help to save a life.

Devon Air Ambulance is also holding a training days at Ivybridge on Thursday June 9.

Visit for more details and to book a place.