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The chance of surviving a cardiac arrest even after an emergency call is lower in Berlin than in other European capitals. This emerges from a response from Interior Secretary Torsten Akmann (SPD) to a request from FDP interior expert Björn Jotzo, which the Tagesspiegel has received in advance.

Akmann writes of the “leading European rescue service systems” in the capitals of Denmark and the Czech Republic, which functioned better than Berlin due to “the spread of publicly accessible defibrillators or compulsory training in resuscitation in schools”. How much better the numbers are in the other cities is not clear from the State Secretary’s letter.

Experts know that the survival rates in Scandinavian cities are between 15 and 25 percent, in Berlin it is 11 percent. On average, Berlin’s fire brigade is alerted about 7,000 times a year because of cardiac arrest.

The first few minutes after cardiac arrest are crucial for survival. Immediate cardiac massage – even by laypeople – massively increases the chances of survival.

Nevertheless, the so-called lay resuscitation rate in Berlin is only 38 percent, which corresponds to the national average, as Akmann’s letter shows. In Norway, the lay resuscitation rate is 70 percent.

In a metropolitan area, Jotzo asks, shouldn’t the lay resuscitation rate and chance of survival actually be better than the national average? In any case, distances in Berlin are shorter than in non-city states. The FDP MP is now calling for more first responders to be trained, ideally in schools, for first responder apps to be advertised and for public buildings to be equipped with defibrillators across the board.

With the devices, also known as “shock generators”, the heart activity is to be restored by electric shocks.

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As early as 2013, the “Ärzteblatt” reported that the Danish government had succeeded in “significantly increasing the number of cardiovascular resuscitation by laypersons”. “Since 2005 there have been first aid courses in elementary school and applicants for a driver’s license have to prove their ability.” In addition, 15,000 defibrillators have been set up across the country.

Berlin doctors report to the Tagesspiegel that there is also a lack of defibrillators in the city, but above all most Berliners do not dare to have a cardiac massage. In half of the cases of cardiovascular arrest, either relatives or passers-by and colleagues are present.

Even if an affected person has been resuscitated, he needs medical help. However, the fire brigade has difficulty getting through Berlin’s crowded streets, report paramedics and doctors, so they get to the patient late. As reported, Berlin’s fire brigade is considered to be overwhelmed: the number of emergency calls is increasing, as is the number of actual operations – while at the same time there is a lack of staff.

Last year, the fire brigade in Berlin deployed almost 493,000 times, that is 1,350 per day and a record in the history of the city. In addition, almost a million emergency calls were made to 112 in 2021. On average, the employees in the control center had to answer a call every 29 seconds.

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It was mostly not about fires, but about medical hazards, i.e. strokes, poisoning, cuts. Paramedics report that the emergency call is too often made because of trifles.

There are many causes of cardiac arrest. In addition to heart attacks, dehydration, poisoning, shock or pulmonary embolism can be the cause. The federal resuscitation register compiled by specialists states: The average resuscitated patient is a 69-year-old man, the proportion of plus 80-year-olds is almost a third.