Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Many people now know First Aid is compulsory on the National Curriculum PSHE in England and Curriculum of Excellence in Scotland, many people think it's a really good idea. But do they really know why? And do teachers really know why?
In England in 2019, our 11 Ambulance Trusts responded to over 80,000 cardiac arrest calls, of which 31,146 subsequently received treatment. 30.7% of patients in whom resuscitation was attempted by ambulance staff were admitted to hospital with a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). Overall survival to discharge from hospital was just 9.6%. This is 7,680 people who survived and 72,320 who didn't.
The survival rate is low – just 1 in 10 people in the UK survive an OHCA (out of hospital cardiac arrest). Effective CPR more than doubles the chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest. When bystander CPR is performed and a defibrillator is used prior to the ambulance service arriving, cardiac arrest survival rates have been reported over 50%.
In 2005 Denmark started teaching CPR in schools and made it a compulsory requirement for driving licenses. Their bystander CPR rates doubled, and cardiac arrest survival rates trebled. By teaching our children in schools from the age of 4 years old we embed and implant the seeds of effective CPR and a core understanding of the 'chain of survival'. Although it's still early days for our compulsory curriculum we hope to see evidence of survival rate increase along the same lines as Denmark.
To achieve this, it is critical that children learn good quality hands on CPR practice. If teachers do not have the knowledge, tools or quality resources to teach good quality CPR then schools must look for providers who can. If you do not know what the chain of survival is, then we highly recommend you attend a First Aid course yourself to gain a better understanding.