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Lifesaving skills lesson

They used specially-designed mannequins to demonstrate the techniques of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to learners in Years 7,8 and 9.

The event was held as part of Restart a Heart – a national initiative to teach CPR to 100,000 people, which is organised by the UK Resuscitation Council and the British Heart Foundation along with ambulance services around the country.

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan Foundation Governor Barry Dunn, a volunteer with national police scheme Bike Safe, was joined by the school’s North Wales Police Liaison Officer PC John Wheway and Welsh Ambulance Service first responder James Eccleston, from Denbigh.

Leading the initiative was teacher Dani Whittingham, who said: “Learning CPR is an important life skill - unfortunately, with heart problems becoming more prevalent, it’s also one that’s very necessary.

“The aim is simply to give our young people the life-saving skills so they are ready when, or if, they need to help save a family member, friend, neighbour or even stranger.

“If someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival double if it happens in front of a bystander who immediately starts CPR before the ambulance service arrives.”

She added: “I’m really pleased our learners have been so keen to learn this very important lesson - they have taken the sessions and practical instruction so seriously.

“We trained around 350 learners in the day, all of Years 7 and 8, plus those from Year 9 who are taking PE as an option.

“If just one learner manages to successfully conduct CPR on a cardiac arrest victim in the future, the important lessons they have learnt will have made a vital difference.”

Barry Dunn said: “Quite simply, performing CPR keeps the blood moving in vital organs such as the brain and increases the chances of the heart continuing in a ‘shockable’ rhythm until a defibrillator can be used.

“Across the UK more than 30,000 patients a year suffer cardiac arrests each year and the Welsh Ambulance Service receives some 2,000 emergency calls related to cardiac arrests each year.”

He added: “As a foundation governor of the school I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to come in and help teach pupils what are very important life skills.”

Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan learners Sienna Fisher and Cory Chapman thought the lessons in how to give CPR were really important.

Sienna said: “It will be really useful if we see someone who has collapsed. At least I’d have an idea what was wrong and what I could do to help until the ambulance arrived.

“It isn’t too difficult and I’m sure I could help if someone needed CPR although I hope I never have to do it in real life.”

Cory added: “It’s been really interesting and something that is good to learn. It’s incredible to think that doing something that’s really quite simple could save someone’s life.

“I think everyone should have these lessons and have the chance to try using a mannequin. That might save lots of lives.”  

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Lives are lost needlessly every day simply because people don’t know how to perform CPR.

“By teaching schoolchildren these skills, which will stay with them for life, we can help more people survive a cardiac arrest and go home to their families.

“We have already seen young people use this training in real life emergencies. Participating in this event will increase the number of potential life savers in North Wales.”

Every year, around 350,000 Europeans suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) -  the majority of them at home. If they get CPR straightaway from a relative or bystander it increases their chances of survival by two or three times.

However, only a fifth of those taken ill get such on-the-spot CPR - and fewer than one in 10 of those patients survive.