The Government has announced that all pupils will be taught vital first aid and resuscitation at school, which we at Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) are pleased to support. We know first-hand, through our work, that CPR is life-saving, which is why we have been providing vital CPR training to school children across the region since 2017 as part of our Great Western Heart Starters programme.
Since the beginning of 2018, our Great Western Heart Starters initiative went from strength to strength, teaching CPR to secondary school pupils across our area. Our vision is to create a region of heart starters who can confidently administer CPR and use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) should they ever find themselves in a situation where it’s needed.
When a person suffers a cardiac arrest, time is of the essence. Those minutes before our crew arrive could prove crucial for a patient fighting for their life. Administering effective CPR within 2 minutes could double their chances of survival. A cardiac arrest can strike at any time, but sadly currently only 8% of patients survive. At present, less than half of bystanders will intervene when they see someone collapse, more often than not because they simply don’t know what to do. This is why we work closely with all of the secondary schools involved to deliver a practical and engaging workshop. By the end of the session pupils know how to recognise the signs of a cardiac arrest, and how to find out if someone’s heart has stopped. We also provide all the training necessary to enable them to feel empowered to administer CPR when it’s most needed.
CPR saves lives, like that of 3-year-old Zach Joyner who nearly drowned whilst on holiday in the Cotswolds. Thanks to the fast work of our crew, and his family’s knowledge of CPR, he has gone on to make a full recovery. Read Zach’s story here.
Or that of Chris Hickey, who suffered a cardiac arrest whilst asleep in bed. Luckily his wife was able to administer CPR quickly and effectively, before our crew arrived on the scene. Chris’s heart stopped for 68 minutes, which is extremely rare to survive. Thanks to the early intervention by his wife, and the quick work of our Critical Care team, he has made a full recovering.
In 2017, 1,845 pupils benefited from the initiative. Sadie Lupton, one of our dedicated team of Heart Starters volunteers said: “It has been fantastic being part of a team that have built up my confidence and skill levels, while also being fun. I’m very proud to be part of GWAAC Heart Starters. It gives me great pride to be part of an initiative that teaches people to save lives.”
In 2018, we continue to work on our programme to reach a wider audience and create more lifesavers among our community. Further to this we will be developing an education programme for primary school children to ensure they grow up understanding the importance of knowing basic life support skills. Schools show a lot of enthusiasm already to welcome us to train their pupils, however with a developed education programme there will be more reason for the schools to get involved and there will be a structured approach which we hope will appeal to schools.
In addition, we are going to develop take home materials. Not only will this create more lifesavers among the community, but will also offer the children a chance to show off their new skills to their parents.
To find out more about our Great Western Heart Starters programme email Claire Harmer on firstname.lastname@example.org