One hour for a lifelong and lifesaving skill.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is not something we readily think about, but knowing how to perform it could be the difference between life and death.
Hopefully we never need to pull our skillsets in CPR out of the bag, but it pays to know what to do in the event of cardiac arrest.
Thanks to the work of the Irish Heart Foundation, children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 are learning this life-long skill in 86% of Irish schools, and are encouraging all post-primary schools to sign up to the free programme.
CPR 4 Schools uses a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ approach, providing all tools, knowledge and resources to teach the lifesaving skill of CPR.
Speaking to HerFamily, Katherine Scott, Acting Children & Young People Programme Manager with the Irish Heart Foundation, explained that the inspiration behind the programme was not only the need to train people in good quality CPR, but to prevent unnecessary deaths.
Over 70% of cardiac arrests happen in the home, so it is essential to be educated on the steps of how to perform CPR while an ambulance is on its way.
“They could be the person at home when this happens. If you’re trained in CPR once, you’re 10 times more likely to respond in a cardiac emergency. The evidence is there. For every minute that you’re not on the chest, that you’re not performing compressions, the persons chances or survival decreases by 10%,” she warned.
The CPR 4 Schools programme takes students through the steps from the very beginning.
This involves being able to recognise the signs of cardiac arrest, to check for breathing, to call 999 or 112, to put the phone on loudspeaker, and deliver CPR.
“They could be the only person in the house and they are able to respond to it. You teach them young, they take the skill, they absorb it, and they bring it through to their adulthood and actually bringing it back in to their community,” Katherine explained.
Schools involved in the training give students the opportunity every year to train so that the quality of their CPR skills is always improving and taking the skills out into the world with them.
Katherine said schools provide an ideal environment for teaching CPR as they help equip a whole new generation with the skill.
She explained that the age group of students, who are now learning the necessary skills to provide CPR, is no coincidence as research shows that from the age of 12 children start to have the strength to provide CPR.
“Young people are absolutely incredible because they take it on confidently, they respond and learn it really quickly,” she says.
The Irish Heart Foundation are hoping to bring CPR training into 100% of Irish schools eventually so that everybody in the country will have an opportunity to learn it and spread the word within their communities.
For parents and guardians who may have kids that have already finished school or haven’t started yet that may like to see them eventually learn the vital skill, Katherine assures that it is actually rather easier to learn.
Saying it is something that ‘everybody should learn,’ she says children outside of school can learn through skill in community responder groups that will delivery the training in your community.
For parents who have preteens starting second-level, she had this advice, “I would say that they should check to see if their school is in the CPR 4 Schools programme. If not, get in touch with us and we can get them involved.”
The Irish Heart Foundation is open to more schools taking on the programme, Katherine shared.
2499 teachers have been trained in 627 post primary schools with a potential to reach 350,000 students nationwide.
“We want everybody to get trained. We will be running it now coming into the new academic year so we want to welcome new teachers, which could be teachers in a school that’s already running the programme and also new schools.”
If your child’s school does not currently deliver the CPR 4 Schools programme, she urges schools or parents to register their interest at email@example.com.
Taking on the programme is completely free, only takes one hour, and the Irish Heart Foundation will provide all of the equipment and resources needed to deliver the training in the school, this includes a mannequin kit, teacher training, and educational videos.
For schools looking to expand their students knowledge on CPR training, further education can be delivered, Katherine explained.
“It can be done in one lesson but if the teachers wanted to extend it and take on other projects as part of it, they can.”
This includes AED and Eircode lesson extensions.
The Irish Heart Foundation has recently elected a new ambassador to help spread awareness and inspire people to learn the life-saving skill of CPR.
Tipperary native and rugby player, Diarmuid Barron, joins the team in tribute to his young cousin who sadly passed from a cardiac illness.
Barron, 25, recently trained in CPR himself while visiting Hazelwood Colleg secondary school in Dromcollogher, Co Limerick.
Teacher, Michelle Herbert, was also there to welcome the rugby star into the classroom of student who would provide his training.
Highlighting the importance of CPR, Herbert actually suffered a heart injury of her own while playing camogie only survived after she received life-saving CPR on the pitch from an opponent.
Katherine shared that, Barron, who recently helped Munster win the United Rugby Championship in South Africa, approached the charity himself to support the work they do.
When discussing their programmes, Barron was particularly interested and saw value in the CPR 4 Schools programme.
The Munster hooker was at the school to present students with a Special Recognition Award, as part of the Irish Heart Foundation’s CPR 4 Schools programme.
Signs of Cardiac Arrest and What To Do
Katherine detailed a number of things that will confirm if a person is going into cardiac arrest, which is when the heart stops working properly.
“They will become unresponsive, they will drop to the floor, and what you do is just shake and call out their name. If they’re not responding, go straight to call the emergency services and get on the chest,” she advised.
If you are a teacher and are interested in bringing the CPR 4 Schools Programme to your school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about CPR 4 Schools, visit https://irishheart.ie/cpr4schools
In just 60 minutes, CPR 4 Schools can equip your child with a lifetime of life-saving knowledge.