The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is calling on secondary schools across the UK to join the largest CPR training event of its kind on European Restart a Heart Day, Tuesday 18 October.
The heart research charity, alongside other organisations, will help support training of 100,000 children in the lifesaving skill as part of its Nation of Lifesavers campaign.
The BHF’s campaign to create a Nation of Lifesavers was launched two years ago in a bid to improve out of hospital cardiac arrest survival rates across the UK, where currently less than one in ten people survive. The charity is working in partnership with all 14 UK ambulance services, the Resuscitation Council UK, British Red Cross and St John Ambulance, amongst others, to stage the mass training event which will predominantly use BHF’s Call Push Rescue training kits that are available to secondary schools for free.
All ambulance services have committed to the event and it is hoped that more than 100,000 children will learn the lifesaving skill on the day this year.
CPR is required immediately when someone suffers a cardiac arrest, which means the heart stops pumping blood around your body. The longer that CPR is delayed the worse the outcome, with an approximate 10% reduction in survival for every minute lost. With more than 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests in the UK every year, the BHF warns that the failure by bystanders to intervene is needlessly costing lives every day.
If survival rates improved to match those seen in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, up to 5,000 lives could be saved every year.
To date, nearly one in four secondary schools are delivering the BHF’s Call Push Rescue training to their pupils and approximately 400,000 secondary school children have been trained. The simple and interactive kit includes a 30-minute DVD and an example lesson plan which omits the need for a trained instructor, meaning schools can easily run the training sessions themselves and have flexibility over when this is delivered.
Helen Cawthorne, 55, an ex-triathlete and secondary school teacher, suffered a cardiac arrest on Valentine’s Day in 2011 – she was saved by a fast acting individual who performed CPR before an ambulance arrived. Helen, who teaches at Carlton Academy in Nottingham, said: “I know first-hand just how vital these simple skills are. Put simply, I wouldn’t be here today if that stranger, my lifesaver, hadn’t had the skills to do CPR before the emergency services arrived.
“I find any appropriate link to the curriculum to make sure that every child who steps into my classroom has the opportunity to learn these irreplaceable skills. It takes just 30 minutes to train your pupils using the BHF’s Call Push Rescue programme and there is nothing more fulfilling than watching pupils leave the classroom with the confidence to save a life.”
Sara Askew, Head of Survival at the BHF, said; “Teaching children lifesaving CPR skills is the best way we can hope to improve cardiac arrest survival rates across the UK. Currently there are 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests each year and less that one in ten people survive.
“Training the next generation will ensure that, from a young age, more people will have the skills and confidence to help in a serious medical emergency and more lives will be saved as a result.
“We want to train 100,000 children across the UK on Restart a Heart Day this year and we would urge any school which hasn’t signed up already to get involved and help us move one step closer to becoming a Nation of Lifesavers.”