Devon Air Ambulance promotes CPR training for Heart Rhythm Week

Daisy Hall
Authored by Daisy Hall
Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2024 - 18:31

World Heart Rhythm Week (June 7 to June 13) is a seven-day period observed annually to raise awareness about arrhythmias and the importance of understanding our heart rates. 
Devon Air Ambulance crews attend to hundreds of patients every year who are suffering with heart related problems and that is why they are so passionate about educating those in our local communities on how to recognise both cardiac arrests and heart attacks. 
During the last two years the charity has trained over 600 members of the public throughout Devon on how they can step in to help someone suffering from a cardiac arrest and how to use a defibrillator. 
Almost all of the Devon Air Ambulance charity shops have a defibrillator situated within or close to their shops. To find a DAA defibrillator in your area using the map here


Former Devon Air Ambulance patient, Sam, shared her story to raise awareness on the importance of bystander intervention and effective CPR to someone suffering a cardiac arrest.


In September 2023, Samantha Ungi and her family started a typical day. Sam was getting ready to head off to work while taking her youngest son to school when she began to feel extremely sick. Sam asked her eldest son, Vinny, to stay home with her and his brother instead of going to Sixth Form because she was feeling so unwell, and it was then that she decided to take herself back to bed. 


Not long after heading up to bed to rest, Vinny recalls being called upstairs by his mum but when he entered her bedroom, he could see that she was unconscious and not breathing. Sam had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. 
Vinny immediately called 999 and with 12-year-old John-Paul's help, the two boys followed the instructions of the call handler, gently lowering their mum from her bed onto the floor. 17-year-old Vinny then began performing CPR, delivering chest compressions which would help to keep blood circulating to Samantha’s brain and vital organs. Vinny did an amazing job, continuing to do this for 14 minutes until the land ambulance arrived.

Shortly after the land ambulance arrived, The DAA critical care crew were also on the scene. Their doctor took over Samantha’s breathing by conducting an intervention called intubation. Once this delicate and highly specialised procedure was complete, Sam was prepared to be transferred to Torbay Hospital by land ambulance, accompanied by the DAA crew who continued to monitor her condition along the journey. On arrival, Sam was rushed into surgery.  
Sam had a stent fitted and was placed into an induced coma to allow her body to heal and to ensure the best chance of recovery. It was a tense time for the whole family but after several failed attempts to wake her, Sam regained consciousness and within just one week, was up and about with minimal lasting damage.

Sam said: ‘I would like to thank the Devon Air Ambulance crew; without their dedication and hard work I would not be here to tell my story. I am extremely grateful that they flew to me so quickly that morning. Even though I didn’t fly to hospital in the helicopter, the expertise of the crew kept me stable on my journey in the land ambulance. I will forever be indebted to them all.’

Read Sam’s full story here: 

Devon Air Ambulance are conducting a series of CPR and defibrillator training events to help boost confidence in communities so that more people can learn the skills we hope they will never need. Register your interest in attending these events on the DAA website here:  
Do you have a local community centre, sports club or parish hall where you would like to bring those in your local community together to learn these vital skills? There are many defibrillators now available for use across the county but do those in your local community know how to use one? If you would like to find out more about holding a free training event in your area, please contact Ginette Gisborne at who will be able to discuss with you how Devon Air Ambulance can help.