Life-saving, literally

27th February 1998 at 00:00
Emergency Life Support Training Pack.

British Heart Foundation.

I pound;9.99.

Suddenly, something awful hap pens: someone cuts themself and blood pumps out of an artery; a person falls down in the street and lies immobile; a child is pulled out of the water, not breathing. Do you know what you should do?

There is nothing like real life for teaching you exactly that. I was spurred to take first aid courses when, completely inadvertently, I saved the life of someone having a heart attack. (Gently sit the patient up, supporting their head and chest curled forward.) Now that really was a teaching aid!

It only takes a few minutes for irreversible brain damage to occur, yet many people would recover if they were given emergency life support treatment.

Chances of survival worldwide for out of hospital cardiac arrest are doubled if bystander give cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Chances are highest in the presence of the emergency services. So the double message is: learn the techniques and learn to recognise warning signs and call for help. The techniques are simple and could be used by a child, so why shouldn't children learn them?

The past 20 years have seen a great push by the emergency aid services to increase public competence in saving lives. Now the British Heart Foundation has I launched Heartstart UK. Its aim: a generation better prepared for saving lives, able to respond to sudden crises.

This pack offers teachers information and activities to use in personal, social and health education. Even children in infant schools can learn to assess the gravity of situations and have instilled in them the need to get help quickly. Older children can learn signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest and graduate to learning resuscitation techniques on manikins.

The pack is centred around stories that appeal to a child's imagination.

What do you do when there is a fire in the house and you are outside? When someone hits their head? When blood gushes out of a wound?

The three modules in the pack cover the first three key stages in the national curriculum and mark a smooth reiteration of the basic emergency life support programmes: ensuring safety, calling for help, checking airways, beginning rescue breathing and compressions, the recovery position, relieving choking, stopping bleeding by pressure and elevation.

The clean wipe reusable cards offer readers help in running activities such as checking pulse rates or finding pressure points for bleeding. Several story boards (helping a friend who is knocked unconscious at a birthday party; finding a child unconscious at the base of a swing) offer strong visual aids to concentrate minds on real life situations.

A British Heart Foundation, 14 Fitzhardinge Street, London W1H 4DH. Tel: 0171 9350185

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