In Harrow, schoolchildren will take the lead in life-saving education as pioneers in an ambitious campaign to create a generation of lifesavers.
Data collated by experts at London Ambulance Service (LAS) identified that Harrow was a high priority for its London Lifesavers schools programme, which aims to teach life-saving skills to Year 8 children.
Analysts of the data gave the borough the second worst cardiac arrest rating in London, based on the high number of cardiac arrest patients and the low survival rates.
The London Lifesavers team from LAS provides free training to schools, aiming to enhance the capital’s standing as a global leader in cardiac arrest response. Students learn to identify cardiac arrest, perform chest compressions, and operate defibrillators, essential life-saving skills.
Sam Palfreyman-Jones, Head of First Responders, said: “We have looked at the number of cardiac arrest patients and survival rates to decide where we can have the most impact with our training.
“We know that by teaching life-saving skills in schools in Harrow 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 hope to show children that by learning these simple skills, they could save someone they love.”
This is exactly what teenager Oliva Christofides did when her step-father Geraldo Folie collapsed at home earlier this year. Oliva – who learnt life-saving skills in the scouts – recognised the signs of cardiac arrest and immediately dialled 999 and started giving him chest compressions.
Olivia said: “I learned what to do at Scouts five or six years ago but the training kicked in as soon as I saw Geraldo gasping for breath.
“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.”
Copenhagen, Seattle and Victoria State have proved survival rates improve with increased bystander intervention, where members of the public can recognise the condition quickly, call an ambulance and start chest compressions and defibrillation quickly.
Early chest compressions and the use of a defibrillator can more than double someone’s chances of survival.
The London Lifesavers team also train members of the public at pop-up events across London and offer training to businesses, charities and community organisations.
As part of the campaign, LAS is also seeking to get thousands more defibrillators into communities where they can start saving lives.
LAS Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “The good news is that we have some of the best response ambulance response times in the country for cardiac arrest patients but every second counts before an ambulance arrives and evidence shows that increasing bystander intervention is the key.
“We need to build a social movement that makes life-saving training one of the things that lots of people know how to do and we need to get defibrillators in every corner of the city – and that work begins in Harrow.”
Schools can find opportunities to train Year 8 cohorts on our London Lifesavers schools webpage.
You can also learn how to save a life and join our London Lifesavers Campaign.
London Lifesavers is funded through a grant provided by NHS Charities Together to our charity, London Ambulance Charity. If you are able to, we welcome donations to this cause here.