Volunteers Abid Ishaq (NEAS emergency care assistant), Mark Chamberlain (South Tees resuscitation officer) and Gareth Campbell (NEAS operations manager) with Year 7 pupils at Thornaby Academy

Big hearted school pupils ready to save lives

More than 1,000 pupils trained in CPR

Volunteers from North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) trained more than 1,000 school pupils in lifesaving skills as part of Restart a Heart Day today (Monday, 16 October).

The event has been 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.

Nationally, the event hopes to have trained more than 150,000 young people in the UK on one day – the largest CPR training event of its kind.

A BHF survey carried out in the North East found 85 per cent of people surveyed would be reluctant to perform CPR on cardiac arrest victims, with the main reasons for the reluctance to step in being fear of causing more harm than good (43 per cent) and lacking the skills and knowledge to perform CPR (40 per cent).

There are over 30,000 cardiac arrests every year in the UK, and devastatingly less than 1 in 10 survive. But according to the BHF, if survival rates matched those reported in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, as many as 5,000 lives could be saved.

Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around ten per cent.

The BHF warns that a lack of public knowledge of CPR could be costing lives as new research from the University of Warwick also finds that those who have been trained in CPR are three times more likely to perform it.

The North East survey found:

-          Only 41 per cent would feel confident giving CPR to a stranger

-          By contrast, 76 per cent would offer a stranger a seat on the bus, and 85 per cent would give directions to a stranger

-          Just 17 per cent were able to identify the two signs of a cardiac arrest, which are  when someone is not breathing or not breathing normally, and that they have collapsed and are unresponsive

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “CPR may be the difference between life and death for hundreds of people every year in the North East who suffer a cardiac arrest. Every second counts, and it simply isn’t enough to hope that someone who knows CPR is present.

“We need everyone in the North East to learn this life-saving skill to give them the confidence to step in and give CPR when someone collapses after a cardiac arrest.

NEAS Operations Manager Gareth Campbell said: “It’s not always easy for people to initiate CPR but the chances of survival and the quality of life thereafter are enormously better if CPR is begun as soon as possible and literally every second counts. 

“There is nothing more disheartening to an ambulance crew than arriving on scene to a patient where CPR is not in progress when it could have been.

“Equipping our youngsters with this vital life skill means we can ultimately save more lives. We are extremely proud to be part of Restart a Heart and hope our volunteers and schools enjoyed the day.”

One of the schools taking part in this year’s event is Thornaby Academy, in Stockton, where CPR training has already helped one pupil save a life.

When Year 8 pupil Tyler Irish’s mum Donna Thomas collapsed at their home in Thornaby at the beginning of September, the CPR training Tyler had received the previous term quickly kicked in.

Tyler instructed dad Graeme on the correct technique until the ambulance crew arrived.

Graeme said: “I was really struggling because I had only seen it done on television.

“Tyler told me to turn her over and showed me where to put my hands and what to do. He never moved, he kept a level head and kept me straight throughout, and kept his younger brothers and sister away while it was happening. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”

After spending a week in an induced coma, Donna has gone on to make a full recovery.

All year 7 pupils at the school were trained at this year’s event, with support from Tyler.

Nina Geragusian, Curriculum Lead for PSHE at Thornaby Academy, said: “We know that cardiac arrest survival rates are much higher in those areas of Europe where CPR is part of the curriculum.

“Being able to instil that knowledge in our students is really powerful in terms of them having the confidence and ability not just to ring 999 in the event of an emergency but to also perform CPR if needed.”

All pupils in Year 9 at The Northumberland Church of England Academy’s Josephine Butler Secondary Campus in Ashington, underwent CPR training as part of Restart a Heart Day.

Helen Freeman, Head of Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE) at the school, said: “We have already trained last year’s Year 10 and Year 11 and aim to ensure that all our students gain this critical, life-saving skill.

“The training not only gives them the confidence to act in an emergency if needed, but also to know how to get help and respond to a 999 operator who would assist in telling them how to give CPR.”

Speaking after the training, Ryan Atkins, 14, from Northumberland Church of England Academy said: “It’s really important to learn CPR as a cardiac arrest can happen anywhere at any time. Being able to know how to do CPR can save someone’s life.”

Over in Corbridge Middle School, Emergency Care Assistant Stuart Connor and Community First Responder Danielle Liddle trained more than 100 pupils to save a life.

Dean Johnston, Deputy Headteacher, said: “Our school ethos is to create responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society and so Restart a Heart Day fits perfectly with us.

“We know CPR is a really vital skill and is something which will equip our children for life. We’re also really pleased to be working with Danielle throughout the rest of the school year.”

To sign up for next year's Restart a Heart campaign, please click here.

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