Why Introduce Basic Life Support / CPR Training during National School Education


The Malta Resuscitation Council is fully committed to raising cardiac awareness through Resuscitation training within a National School education programme.

Initial training of Health and Safety Teachers working within the Department of Education in Basic life Support training and skills in teaching BLS to school children was carried out during a two day intensive training course carried out on the 7th and 8th. July. This training will consolidate the foundation of a core group of trained teachers who are well placed within the National School framework to set the ball rolling in commencing widespread Basic life support training in schools over the forthcoming years. With backing from the Ministry of Education this may lead to fulfilling the goal of ensuring that every child finishes his formal school years certified in Cardiopulmonary resuscitation prior to being released into the ‘outside world’.


Background

Sudden cardiac death is one of the major issues in global health care. At least 700,000 people die each year in Europe following sudden cardiac death with unsuccessful out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); this amounts to 2,000 deaths every day. 

Statistics show that:

  • Less than 1 out of 10 patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive today.
  • Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is witnessed in 60-80%.
  • Bystander CPR is delivered in less than 1 in 5 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.
  • Increasing this rate will save 200,000 additional lives in Europe and in the U.S. every year.

It is logical therefore to include resuscitation training in school programs and teaching CPR to all school children will therefore lead to a marked improvement in global health. Thus one of the most important steps in increasing the rate of bystander resuscitation and improving survival worldwide is to educate all school children.

This concept is already very successful in Scandinavia. It was shown that the rate of bystander CPR nearly doubled after five years, with a threefold improvement in survival following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest over ten years.


National School Curriculum

The Malta Resuscitation Council is advocating that Resuscitation Training is introduced within the National school curriculum. The positive advantages of doing so are multiple:

  • The school environment is the recognised ideal natural setting to implement a concept that requires a teaching and training process as learning in school is already the main activity in schools. In teaching this essential life skill schoolchildren provide a captive and attentive audience who readily accept new concepts. They are better motivated than the adult population and learn new techniques more readily.

  • Long-term advantage: Teaching the school children body is an excellent opportunity to train a large population of the future adult population in become the future adult life-savers. 

  • Immediate advantage: Leaving secondary education certified in Basic Life Support immediately improves the present pool of trained BLS providers who can initiate essential CPR procedures on encountering cardiac arrest victims in the community.

  • Children aged 13 years and over are able to perform chest compressions as effectively as adults in accordance with recommendations in the guidelines.

  • Younger children can use the knowledge gained during this training to assess the need for CPR when faced with these incidents and also can activate the Emergency Medical Services early themselves.

  • Although younger children may not be physically capable of carrying out effective chest compressions and ventilations they are an important source of knowledge which can be used in teaching these lifesaving skills to the other family members including their parents. As a consequence of this, there will be a rise in cardiac awareness throughout the community.

  • Increasing the interest and sense of importance of life saving skills in out of hospital cardiac arrest to a wide audience is enhanced early in life. 

  • Instilling resuscitative skills at this age will increase the spontaneity and automaticity of responding when faced with a cardiac arrest situation.

  • In training soon to be school leavers there is provision of life saving skills and knowledge are made available to a large cohort of the younger generation at an opportune time in an adolescent’s life where relocation from their parents’ home into the community coupled with initial early employment experience increases the probability of encountering a cardiac arrest situation.

  • There are a variety of cultural and social aspects to be found within the school environment and thus teaching across all borders may possibly decrease time delays to start CPR when faced with similar social barriers or cultural population groups when dealing with the cardiac arrest victim.

  • The teaching of these important life skills at this level of education is markedly different to any other subjects or skills taught during the school years. The added skills increase the students’ self-esteem and instil the introduction of personal responsibility to assist in emergency situations.  It also increases the notion of personal civic duty to the National Community.

A legislative mandate by the local governments of each European country will strengthen the resolve on increasing the pool of trained bystanders from the younger generation thus improving the mortality of out of hospital cardiac arrest.

The Malta Resuscitation Council believes that this is the way forwards in saving lives within our Community and the local Government has a duty to follow suit.