Leicestershire Heartsafe Schools Programme

An extremely successful launch event was held at the Leicester Tigers Rugby Football Club ground on 28th February 2012. Forty-two schools were represented, each sending two year 10 pupils (designated ‘Heartsafe Ambassadors’) and at least one teacher. Local dignitaries, sports celebrities and representatives from partner organisations also attended and the event was well supported by industry partners, including Laerdal, Philips, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, St Jude Medical and Sorin Group. Stands were also hosted by the BHF, JHMT and Arrhythmia Alliance.

Leicestershire Heartsafe Schools Programme
An introductory session was compered by a local radio presenter. This included an overview by Dr Doug Skehan, Programme Co-Director, of the problem of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of prompt bystander intervention, and an introduction to the concept of the ‘chain of survival’. Several survivors of cardiac arrest and those who resuscitated them then told their stories, which was both moving and informative, giving attendees a genuine insight into the reality and personal impact of cardiac arrest.  Part of a BHF Heartstart DVD was then shown to illustrate an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest scenario, including bystander CPR and defibrillation by the emergency services.

Delegates then split into groups and participated in a hands-on session providing an introduction to CPR using the Mini Anne Plus, with over 30 training stations manned by trained volunteers to ensure a good trainer/trainee ratio. Training was also provided in the use of an AED. Delegates also had the opportunity to visit an exhibition area, including interactive sessions with cardiologists and cardiac physiologists explaining aspects of post-resuscitation care, a chance to meet and talk to cardiac arrest survivors, and device manufacturers demonstrating current implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) technology. A skills meter was available for delegates to test their CPR competence and there was an opportunity for further practice in the use of an AED in a competitive context, assessing time to first shock - winning time 22 seconds!

One of the RC (UK) Lifesaver DVD scenarios was then presented in an interactive forum, hosted by RC (UK) Chairman, Dr David Pitcher, with support from RC (UK) Courses Manager, Sue Hampshire. Finally, each of the schools attending was presented with an AED and instructional material to take away. They will also be provided with a training AED in due course.

The event received good media coverage and feedback from those attending, including an evaluative questionnaire, was extremely positive. The focus throughout was on the young schools’ Ambassadors, whom it is hoped will enthuse their colleagues ahead of the schools’ training programme, which will follow. The programme has a website www.Heartsafe-UK.org and Twitter presence (@Heartsafe_UK), intended to increase awareness and promote engagement of the entire school community.