270 lives: CPR & AED training should be part of the national teaching curriculum

This year, in the UK, 270 children will die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) at school.

With this figure in mind, it seems obvious that any measure to reduce that number should be implemented immediately.

Which is why the recent announcement by the Department for Education (DfE) has been welcomed by The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and British Red Cross.

Due to roll out in 2020 across Secondary schools in England, the DfE plan to have CPR and treatment for other common injuries as part of the national curriculum. Primary school children will be included to, with plans to teach basic first aid and steps to support the health and wellbeing of others.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said: “Adding CPR to the curriculum in England will mark a defining moment in improving the UK’s shockingly low survival rates from cardiac arrests.

“Less than one in 10 people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK, but evidence suggests nearly one in four could survive if all young people are trained with lifesaving CPR skills.”

AED Lacking

This is unarguably a great step forward, but there are other glaringly obvious holes in the UK school system when it comes to SCA:

  • There is currently no mandatory requirement for schools to be equipped with Automated external defibrillators (AEDs)
  • There is a DfE guide explaining how schools should purchase an AED

Considering that fewer than 1 in 10 people survive SCA outside of hospital and the use of an AED in the first 60 seconds of an incident boost survival rates by 90%, CPR training and AED’s installed in all UK schools should be mandatory.

A point backed by South Scotland MSP Emma Harper.
Ms Harper addressed the Scottish Parliament after learning only 4 schools in her region had an AED on site.

Would you want your child in a school which had no fire extinguishers installed?

Judged by 12 or carried by 6 springs to mind

What makes matters worse, the DfE advise schools that they cannot offer any legal advice in the use of AED’s in an incident.

Modern AED’s, such as Martek’s Lifeforce AED, are designed to be used by anybody – trained or untrained:

  • AED is applied using simple illustrations and instructions
  • The AED analyses the patient’s heart rhythm
  • If irregular rhythm is detected, a shock can be administered. If it’s normal, no shock can be delivered.

Between this analysis, CPR (also known as Basic Life Support (BLS)) should be performed in order to keep a supple of oxygen to the brain.

Let’s save lives

Simple training highlighting hand positioning and pressure, along with the use of an AED could see 270 children survive SCA whilst in school – a place where a child’s safety and welfare should be paramount.

Personally, I’ve worked in schools and taught basic first aid to children, young adults and staff. All were keen to learn as they know these simple actions could save a life.

The DfE’s announcement to introduce CPR into the curriculum is a fantastic move, but more needs to be done.

An AED could save the life of you or somebody close to you. Do you have one within 60 seconds of where you are reading this?


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