About 60,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside hospital each year in the UK and only one in 10 will survive. Reporter Fiona Finch joined a new county course which aims to help save more lives. .
I have been there, done it and got the certificate to prove it.
I have become one of a hoped for 2,500 people who will sign up for and be trained as Lancashire Lifesavers during the next few weeks.
In exchange for less than an hour of my time earlier today I was shown the basics of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), otherwise known as chest compressions, as part of a cross county initiative to help save lives.
The “class” at county hall, led by a North West Ambulance Service expert, was full of eager pupils, both workers and the retired, who were keen to learn a new or revise this basic first aid skill.
First we learned the DRSABC on what to do in an emergency - check for danger before rushing to help, look for a response by shaking the casualty’s’s shoulders and asking if they are alright, shout for someone to ring 999 and to get help, tilt the collapsed person’s head back gently to open the airway and prevent the tongue blocking air flow, check for normal breathing.
If normal breathing is absent this is the time to apply chest compressions by hand.
After guidance and a training film we all got the chance to try CPR on a first aid dummy, pressing with the heel of our hand, covered by the other hand,, (see our video and photos), on the centre of its chest...learning in the process that this is not for weaklings.
Cheryl Pickstock, the Chain of Survival lead for the North West Ambulance Service, debunked a lot of the fears people may have about attempting CPR, gave clear guidance about the difference between a cardiac arrest and heart attack and crucially emphasised why chest compressions are applied after a cardiac arrest .Her main message is that it is better to try CPR than not and not to be fearful of getting it wrong.
Lancashire Lifesavers was devised in the aftermath of the collapse of former county councillor Tony Jones during a council meeting.
The former Morecambe councillor, whose heart had stopped beating for some 41 minutes, was given a second chance at life thanks to the application of CPR and the use of a defibrillator in the vital minutes before professional medical help arrived.
The project is a joint initiative between the county council, the North West Ambulance Service and BBC Radio Lancashire and is the idea of radio reporter Mike Stevens who had a key role in helping to save Tony Jones. He was one of a group, including County Coun John Fillis and County Council manager Matt Dean, who assisted the stricken councillor immediately after his collapse.
Also signing up for courses on the first day of training yesterday was councilleader County Coun Geoff Driver and the leader of the Labour opposition group County Coun Azhar Ali.The council is now providing £30,000 to buy 40 defibrillators to be used in key community locations across the county and is hoping many more people will sign up for the courses.
Coun Driver said: “It was brought home to us when Tony Jones collapsed. It just makes you realise if Tony had not got such good help so quickly he wouldn’t be with us now. That (collapse) can happen to anybody.”
Meanwhile Coun Ali said: “It’s a great way to save lives and it’s a lasting legacy to the work that Tony Jones has undertaken in 30 odd years as a county councillor if it saves lives.”
Those on yesterday’s course included friends and retired BAE workers Michael Goonan,76, and Jim Green, 72, who both attend a local gym. Jim said: “I did train at work but it’s years ago
I wanted an update. If anything happened to anybody close by I didn’t want to stand by and feel helpless.I’ve now got the confidence and better understanding to do something about it if I get in that situation. It was an excellent presentation.”
• See the video on our website for further details of how to apply CPR.
• Lancashire Lifesavers classes are being held across the county until May 12. See the county council website for booking details.
•Tony Jones returned to County Hall recently to thank those who had helped save his life.
When to apply CPR
CPR or chest compressions could help save someone’s life if they have a cardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack and needs different treatment.
A cardiac arrest victim will suddenly lose consciousness and will stop breathing normally. Unless they are immediately treated with CPR they will die within minutes. The aim is to get blood circulating again through regular compressions using both hands in the centre of the chest. For children one hand might be sufficient and for tiny babies use just two fingers.