A cardiac arrest is an extreme medical emergency which occurs when a person’s heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. CPR is the life-saving medical procedure which is given to someone who is in cardiac arrest, helping to pump blood around the body when their heart is unable to do so.
In Northern Ireland, there are around 1,400 cardiac arrests each year that occur outside hospital. Evidence from Europe suggests that providing CPR training within the school curriculum can have clear and measurable impacts on survival rates. Other jurisdictions within the UK have recently introduced compulsory CPR lessons within their school curriculums.
CPR is a critical and potentially life-saving skill, and in Learning for Life and Work (LLW) classes all pupils should ‘develop an awareness of emergency first aid procedures’. LLW is therefore the ideal context for learning first aid and CPR as it provides opportunities to develop practical knowledge alongside the skills and attributes necessary to put such knowledge into practice in a real life emergency. Until recently, Northern Ireland has been at risk of being the only area of the UK where CPR is not taught to pupils.
Schools might also wish to consider providing refresher training at Key Stage 4 and post-16 pupils over time, to keep these skills up-to-date.
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