A SCHOOLBOY whose first aid training helped save his mother’s life was one of thousands of children taking part in Restart a Heart Day activities yesterday.

North East Ambulance Service volunteers delivered lifesaving training sessions in schools across the region as part of the annual campaign which raises awareness of the importance of CPR.

Among those taking part was Thornaby Academy in Stockton-on-Tees where the school’s commitment to CPR and first aid has already saved a life.

Loading article content

When year eight pupil Tyler Irish’s mother, Donna Thomas, collapsed at their home in Thornaby last month, the CPR training he received the previous term kicked in. Tyler instructed his father, Graeme, on the correct techniques until the ambulance crew arrived.

Mr Irish said: “I was really struggling because I had only seen it done on television. Tyler told me to turn her over and showed me where to put my hands and what to do. He never moved, he kept a level head and kept me straight throughout, and kept his younger brothers and sisters away while it was happening. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”

The activities were organised in conjunction with the Resuscitation Council, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) – which provides the training equipment free of charge as part of its Nation of Lifesavers campaign- and the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

It follows research by the BHF in the North-East which revealed 85 per cent of people would be reluctant to perform CPR on cardiac arrest victims. The main reason given was the fear of doing more harm than good or lacking the skills and knowledge.

There are more than 30,000 cardiac arrests every year in the UK, and less than one in ten people survive. But if survival rates matched those in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, as many as 5,000 lives could be saved.

At Durham High School for Girls, there are plans to make CPR part of the personal, social, heath and economic (PSHE) curriculum. About 180 students were trained on Restart a Heart Day with the remaining senior house pupils to be trained before Christmas.

PSHE co-ordinator Reverend Brett Vallis said “We are very excited to be involved in this lifesaving initiative and are very grateful to the British Heart Foundation for making it possible for every student to practice CPR on a mannequin.”

In Yorkshire, cardiac arrest survival rates are above the national average at 43 per cent thanks largely to a Yorkshire Ambulance Service initiative with schools.

Over at Richmond School and Sixth Form College in North Yorkshire, pupils were instructed by Yorkshire Ambulance paramedics and NHS trained community first responders, under the watchful eye of Baroness Harris of Richmond.

The House of Lords member was so impressed that she plans to talk with colleagues in Parliament about making CPR part of the national curriculum.

She said: “The survival rates in this county are absolutely magnificent and I strongly believe this is because of days like these. I will be raising this with my colleagues because this is something that should be introduced across the country.”

Learning for life co-ordinator at Richmond School and Sixth Form College Nicola Walker said: “Our students took the training very seriously and I am confident would respond in the right way in the future if they came across anyone taken seriously ill.

“They will have the knowledge to call for help and the skills to potentially keep someone alive in the critical moments until medical assistance arrives. It’s a fantastic initiative and the survival rates are clear proof that it is a genuine life-saver.”