Paramedic Andrea Raine teaching CPR at Sacred Heart School in Redcar

Big hearted school pupils ready to save lives

More than 1,000 young people taught lifesaving skills

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) supported at least 60 half hour sessions earlier this week to teach nearly 1,800 young people lifesaving skills for Restart a Heart day.

The event was organised in conjunction with the Resuscitation Council (UK), the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which provides the training equipment free of charge as part of its Nation of Lifesavers campaign, and North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

Community Development Officer from NEAS, Alex Mason added: “Our call handlers supported at least 2,200 people ringing 999 last year to do CPR over the telephone in the critical minutes when an ambulance was travelling.  Our crews alone go to around 3,000 patients each year where the patient needs CPR.  As a paramedic or emergency care worker, there can be nothing worse than arriving at a cardiac arrest to find that no one is doing CPR, meaning that they are already on the back foot.  Even with good CPR, defibrillation, drug therapy and treatment it can sometimes be unlikely to get a return of circulation, but the more time without a patient is waiting for help, the more likely the brain will have been starved of oxygen and the chance of surviving to discharge are extremely low.

“This skill is something that people can use for their rest of their lives and maybe one day to save a life.  Teaching the next generation the skills will hopefully give them the confidence to help if there’s ever an occasion when they need to – it’s a skill you never really forget and the more people who have it, the greater the chance that patients in cardiac arrest can recover.”

In Wallsend, 205 students were trained at Churchhill Community College.  Headteacher Elaine Riley, said, “It is so important for any one of us to be able to help if we are ever needed to – you just never know when someone could be a affected by a heart attack or an accident when their breathing stops.  Fifteen children a week die in the UK from a sudden cardiac arrest – that’s 15 too many and if we can save just one of those it would be worth it.”

Student Benjamin Buckton, aged 14, of Battle Hill said: “I found it really interesting and I feel confident now that I could save someone’s life. It is quite hard work to do it properly so the more people that know how to do it, the more likely that when you start getting tired, you can take it in turns.”

Sacred Heart School in Redcar also took part.  Michelle Hill, Assistant Headteacher, said: “We recognise that as well as academic achievement, it is important that our students develop skills for life. Teaching the students the skills of resuscitation will give them the confidence, that if the occasion arises, they will be able to save someone's life. What a wonderful opportunity for them. We are very grateful that there was funding available to train 150 of our students today. Also in the future, these students will be able to be used as ambassadors to train more of our students.”

The BHF’s Nation of Lifesavers campaign aims to equip all young people and adults across the UK with the vital CPR skills to help save a life. To date, nearly one in four secondary schools across the UK have signed up for and are delivering the BHF’s Call Push Rescue training. The simple and interactive kit includes a tutorial DVD which omits the need for an instructor and means the training can be used to teach far more people, led by schools, employers and community groups.

The initiative aims to teach vital CPR skills to all secondary school age children, giving the next generation the skills and confidence to save a life and increasing cardiac arrest survival rates across the UK.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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