Teaching AED awareness in schools is just the start

Teaching AED awareness in schools is just the start

Last month, the Welsh Parliament passed a Bill committing to the teaching of CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) awareness skills in Welsh schools from 2022.

In so doing, Wales will join England and Scotland in teaching these critical lifesaving skills to secondary school-aged students.

Why?  “To give pupils everything they need to learn the skills and gain the confidence to save a life in an emergency.”

We’ve seen the evidence that teaching these skills to children has a direct impact on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates.

For example, we’ve referred previously to Denmark’s national program to teach CPR in schools that contributed to significant improvements in health outcomes for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest sufferers in that country.

We learned of this Bill from Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK), which also supports an initiative to fund public access defibrillators (PADs) and training kits for workplaces and communities across the UK.

This initiative, run by Beat Heartbreak Forever (BHF), is designed to improve community access to public access defibrillators.  It also provides training to give people the confidence to use one.

It’s a wonderful program recognising that “by performing CPR and using a defibrillator, you’ll give someone the best possible chance of survival.”

We are big fans of BHF’s efforts to improve public access to defibrillation, but also to their work around CPR and AED training – in particular, the Call Push Rescue coaching program.

This initiative has so far funded thousands of public access defibrillators across the UK.  While impressive, this is a drop in the ocean compared to the overall need.

RCUK estimates that only 3 per cent of cardiac arrests happen within the recommended retrieval distance of a defibrillator.

Programs like this, though, are critical to improving the survivability of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest – especially when they work in concert with CPR training programs such as the schools initiative about to be introduced across Wales.

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