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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Daniel Keane

Major new lifesaving training programme from London Ambulance Service launched in capital’s schools

Paramedics aim to train every Year 8 pupil in London how to perform CPR and use a defibrillator as part of the London Ambulance Service’s most ambitious training programme to date.

The London Lifesavers campaign, which launched on Monday, will see children taught essential life-saving skills in schools across the capital.

Children will be taught how to recognise when someone has suffered a cardiac arrest and how to give chest compressions to keep blood pumping around the body. They will also be shown how to use a defibrillator, which can restart a heart.

The LAS believe the programme could help save thousands of lives. Data shows that early chest compressions and the use of a defibrillator can more than double someone’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest.

Paramedics hope to visit two schools every week and teach 80,000 children in every borough throughout the campaign, with the eventual aim of teaching every Year 8 child in London.

Training will initially be delivered in “wave one” boroughs with the lowest cardiac arrest survival rates: Brent, Barking and Dagenham, Harrow, Newham, Redbridge, Ealing and Enfield.

Teams will work with schools in these boroughs for three months, before moving on to other high priority areas.

Around 68 per cent of cardiac arrest victims in London currently receive bystander support, but this remains 20 per cent lower than cities such as Copenhagen.

Consultant paramedic Mark Faulkner told the Standard that the campaign could be “game-changing” and create a “generation of lifesavers”.

“If we can get into every school in London, then this could massively increase our survival rates.”

He said that equipping children with lifesaving skills would also help them develop the mental resilience to deal with the trauma of witnessing a cardiac arrest.

“There are studies which show that people feel worse psychologically when they don’t know what to do in an emergency. Knowledge will help children to cope with these events.”

As part of the campaign, the LAS also hopes to acquire thousands more defibrillators for local communities. Defibrillator availability is lowest in Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham and Hackney and highest in Richmond up Thames, Greenwich and Hillingdon.

The London Lifesavers team will also train members of the public at pop-up events across London and offer training to businesses, charities and community organisations.

Sam Palfreyman-Jones, Head of First Responders, said: “We know that by teaching life-saving skills in schools and giving children the confidence to use a defibrillator, more lives will be saved in those crucial minutes before an ambulance arrives.

“Most cardiac arrests happen in the home, so we are telling children that by learning these simple skills, they could save someone they love.”

‘More lives will be saved’

A teenage girl who saved her stepfather’s life by performing chest compressions and CPR when he suffered a cardiac arrest today backed the campaign to train London schoolchildren in lifesaving skills.

Olivia Smith, 18, used skills that she had learned in the scouts to save her stepdad Geraldo Folie, 60, when he collapsed at home in Kingsbury on March 19.

After recognising the signs of cardiac arrest, she immediately dialled 999 and started giving him chest compressions. Her intervention bought vital time for paramedics, who rushed Mr Folie straight to hospital. He survived the incident and did not suffer brain damage.

Olivia Smith, 18, used skills that she had learned in the scouts to save her stepdad Geraldo Folie (London Ambulance Service)

Olivia told the Standard: “I could see his chest sinking into his body and his stomach bloating, so I gave him CPR. It was all instinct – if I hadn’t spent five minutes learning how to do it years ago, then my stepdad wouldn’t be here.”

Olivia added: “I’m so happy seeing Geraldo at home now – I see him laugh and tell myself “wow, look what I did!”

“When I learned these skills I never expected to use them but these incidents happen and thanks to London Lifesavers, more lives will be saved.”

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