Abu Dhabi: It is assumed that only one to two per cent of patients who suffer a cardiac arrest survive after reaching hospitals in the UAE, a senior medical official said here on Sunday.

“King County in the US has a 60.4 per cent survival rate; this shows we have a long way to go…” Dr Fergal Cummins, Chief Medical Adviser, National Ambulance Company in Abu Dhabi, said.

King County is the most populous county in the state of Washington. The county seat is Seattle, which is the state’s largest city. As of 2011 King County was the 86th highest-income county in the United States.

Dr Cummins said people trained in good quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can reduce deaths due to cardiac arrests.

CPR is an emergency procedure performed in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person who suffers cardiac arrest.

He was speaking about new advances in pre-hospital care on the first day of the Abu Du Dhabi Medical Congress and Exhibition at a session titled “Disaster Medicine”.

Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the congress, Dr Cummins said the survival rate of patients suffering cardiac arrest is just an assumption because a system to track such cases is still in its infancy in this region. The UAE needs such a system and authorities are working on it, he said.

However, the doctor said, the survival rate in the UAE is not so poor considering the fact that it is zero in the US State of Detroit. The world average is 3-4 per cent, he said.

Dr Cummins said improving emergency services including ambulance services will increase the survival rate of such patients in the UAE.

Dr Saleh Fares, President, Emirates Society of Emergency Medicine in Abu Dhabi, who was the moderator of the session, told Gulf News that awareness and training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is improving in the country and that will further increase the survival rate.

More ordinary people have to be trained in CPR, he said.

Dealing with medical emergencies in the aftermath of a terrorist attack is a major challenge, another medical professional said at the same session. The death toll in the recent Boston marathon bombings in the US was reduced due to efficient emergency services, Thomas Omogi, President and CEO, EFP Tactical Medical Group Limited, Berkshire, UK, said.

He was speaking on optimising hospital surge capacity, sharing lessons learned at the Boston, Madrid and Mumbai bombings.

He said the plight of distressed medical staff who are compelled to work non-stop for long hours while dealing with a large number of patients in such situations are often ignored. He suggested taking care of medical staff and giving them enough support as part of overall management of the crisis.

Hospital facilities and emergency service staff must always be ready to face any challenges, Omogi said.