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Everyone can and should become familiar with the first aid techniqueEveryone can and should become familiar with the first aid technique CPR, the HSE has said.

This week is European Restart a Heart Week - an initiative aimed at creating awareness of the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

CPR should be administered as soon as possible to a person who has suffered a cardiac arrest (their heart has stopped beating). The first few minutes after a cardiac arrest are vital - if the pumping activity of the heart is not restored within a couple of minutes, the brain suffers irreversible damage.

According to the HSE, many people are unaware that if someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival double if it happens in front of a bystander who immediately calls 999 and starts CPR before the ambulance's arrival.

Every minute without CPR reduces a person's chance of survival by 7-10%, therefore it is essential that as many people as possible are familiar with this first aid technique.

As part of Restart a Heart Week, the HSE will have CPR familiarisation sessions in many different HSE locations, where staff will be encouraged to get involved, with the instruction of volunteers from the National Ambulance Service, resuscitation training officers and community first responders.

A number of other events will also take place throughout the week by organisations such as Irish Heart and the Dublin Fire Brigade. Members of the public can take part in these events free of charge and can find out more here

"Participating in European Restart a Heart week will give people an appreciation of CPR and it will raise awareness of recognising the signs of cardiac arrest. It is so important to be familiar with how to help in the case of an emergency. By being familiar with CPR you could help save a life," commented National Ambulance Service director, Martin Dunne.

European Restart a Heart Week runs from October 16-20.