Life-saving skills sessions hailed a success

More than a thousand people have learned life-saving skills thanks to the success of a student-led campaign.

Volunteers helping run the Restart a Heart Day training session in the University Precinct

Restart a Heart Day CPR training sessions on campus are a huge success. October 2018

Volunteers from the School of Medicine’s Clinical Skills Team have been staging a series of drop-in sessions on campus and in the city centre, as part of the global Restart a Heart Day initiative on Tuesday 16 October.

Events in the University Precinct and Worsley Building provided training to staff and students in life-saving skills, giving them the confidence to provide vital assistance in the event of a cardiac arrest medical emergency. 

The drop-in nature of the event allowed for anyone to pop in and learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills, as well as familiarising themselves with a public-access defibrillator (AED) … all in the space of just eight minutes. 

A defibrillator is a device that gives a high-energy electric shock to the heart through the chest walls to someone who is in cardiac arrest. The quicker the patient can be given shocks in combination with CPR, the greater the chance of successful resuscitation.

A total of 477 people took up the offer of the free training on campus, and this figure swelled to 1,086 following a further session at Victoria Gardens.

'Colossal achievement' 

In a message to fellow medical students who volunteered for the project, Restart a Heart student lead, James Nicholson, said: "This is a colossal achievement.

"Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of people have received CPR training for global Restart a Heart Day. We know that one in five people will witness someone collapse who needs CPR during their lifetime. Just take a moment to think about how many people may receive early CPR and defibrillation because of your teaching. It is no exaggeration to say that collectively our efforts will save lives and improve outcomes for patients for years to come.

"And there is a wider impact to our work, too – ‘on the go’ teaching experience for you that will be an asset in your future career; more young people from all backgrounds inspired to consider a career in healthcare; a better awareness of health in our local communities and a stronger relationship between the University and the people of Leeds. You have all contributed to this and it's a credit to your hard work and generosity.

"We are also indebted to the support we have received from organisations like the University's Facilities Directorate, Leeds University Union, the Resuscitation Council, Leeds City Council, the British Heart Foundation, Leeds Heart Beats, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Parkrun, Leeds Student Television and Leeds Student Radio. Without them, our events wouldn’t have been possible."

James Nicholson (far left), medical student and Restart a Heart student lead, with Laura Smith (far right), Head of Clinical Skills Education at the University, and volunteers Claire Ozber, Charlotte Fletcher and Maiya Anning at the Worsley Building Restart a Heart Day event

'Grateful and proud'

And there has been further praise for the team's efforts. 

Laura Smith, Head of Clinical Skills Education in the School of Medicine, said: “Working in partnership with our students and external organisations, we have been able to provide opportunities for staff, students and members of the general public to learn these life-saving skills and to give them the confidence to help in an emergency situation, which could potentially save lives. 

“This project is being run to support the global Restart a Heart initiative and as part of the School of Medicine’s community-based skills teaching initiative, which aims to make learning such skills accessible to members of the general public across a range of communities.

"This whole project has been a team effort and I feel immensely grateful and proud of all those who have contributed to making it such a success! The past month has certainly been an intensive period of hard work, but we've had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of new partners and the project has been filled with surprises and learning experiences for us all.

"This work provides an excellent foundation on which we intend to continue to build and further develop our community-based skills initiatives, including Restart a Heart 2019!"

Professor Trudie Roberts, Director, Leeds Institute of Medical Education, added: "James and his student colleagues have done an absolutely fantastic job and I and the Dean of Medicine, Professor Mark Kearney, and the Faculty Dean, Professor Paul Stewart, are tremendously proud of them all. They are a credit to the School and will make excellent and committed doctors in the future.

"This initiative was supported by Laura Smith and her staff, and I realise successes like this programme do not happen without a great deal of effort behind the scenes, and I'm very grateful to them. Everyone involved was thrilled at the achievement of this initiative and I know they are already discussing plans for next year!"

Dr Andrew Lockey, Honorary Secretary of the Resucitation Council (UK), said: "This has been a phenomenal example of effective teamwork with the result that there are now more than 1,000 new potential life-savers in the Leeds area.

"The amount of work that has been put into organising this has been really impressive, as well as the engagement from such a large number of trainers. 

"On behalf of the ‘Restart a Heart’ Strategy team, thank you to you all."

Defibrillators project 

The drop-in sessions support the University’s recent initiative in which 17 new defibrillators were installed across campus. The University now has 30 of the life-saving machines, which are also registered with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

This partner-led event is a joint collaboration between the University’s Facilities Directorate, the School of Medicine, Leeds University Union, Leeds City Council and the Resuscitation Council.

One further event will be held at Leeds City Council on Monday 12 November.

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