People of all ages should learn CPR so more lives can be saved

Date published: 16 October 2019

That was the key message from Professor Charlotte McArdle, NI’s Chief Nursing Officer who was speaking at a ‘World Restart a Heart’ Day event in St Mary’s Grammar School, Belfast.

Five schools across NI took part in informal awareness events where school nurses introduced young people to the skills required to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Speaking about how learning CPR could be beneficial in everyday life, Professor McArdle said: “Every year in NI there are around 1,500 cardiac arrests that occur outside a hospital environment and sadly fewer than 10% of these people will survive.

“CPR and defibrillation skills are the two immediate interventions needed when someone suffers a cardiac arrest. I think it is important that we educate people of all ages on these skill sets because less than half of bystanders intervene when they see someone collapse.”

Patrick Gallagher, Transformation Nurse Lead for the Department of Health added: “Today the boys have been learning what to do in an emergency – they have learned to check for normal breathing, to call 999, do chest compressions and give rescue breaths until an ambulance arrives. These actions may help save a life.”

Siobhan Kelly, Principal of St Mary’s Grammar School concluded: “This morning my pupils have had the opportunity to increase their confidence and skills in managing an individual who has a cardiac arrest.

“They have been able to practice these essential lifesaving skills in a safe, simulated environment.

“Hopefully they will never have to put them to practice but if they are faced with the situation of someone having a cardiac arrest then we can take assurance from the fact that they will have an understanding of what is required which may help save a life.”

‘Restart a Heart’ day has been delivered in conjunction with the British Heart Foundation and Resuscitation Council (UK) with the financial support and clinical expertise of both the Clinical Education Centre and Department of Health.

Professor McArdle also used this opportunity to talk to and answer questions from the pupils on potential careers in nursing.

Notes to editors: 

1.Other events took place at Bangor Grammar, Dungannon Integrated, Enniskillen Royal Grammar and Ulidia Integrated

2. CPR training courses may vary depending on their overall duration but in general a course will cover

  • How to recognise that someone may be having a cardiac arrest
  • Calling for help & asking if a defibrillator machine is available
  • The basics of CPR training
  • Practical session, rehearsing learned techniques on a training mannequin
  • Questions and answers

3. CPR is an important link in the chain of survival which has 4 stages:

  • Early recognition and call for help
  • Early CPR
  • Early Defibrillation
  • Post resuscitation care

4. For every one minute that passes in cardiac arrest before defibrillation, chances of survival are reduced by about 10%.

5. Each year around 3,500 people are admitted to hospital in NI with a heart attack.

6. Heart disease is the second main cause of death for people in NI.

7. The Department’s Community Resuscitation Strategy was launched in July 2014 with the aim of improving the survival rate for those who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.  The Ambulance Service established a Regional Implementation Group to take forward the actions set out in the Strategy and a number of sub-groups have been created to progress the strategy’s objectives. 

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