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Life-saving training scheme hits major milestone

A project which started as a University of Portsmouth exercise to train students and staff in CPR, has now taught more than 1,000 people across the city life-saving skills.

More than 1,000 people in Portsmouth, from children to pensioners, have learnt life-saving skills as result of the free training scheme.

The project was set up by the University of Portsmouth in partnership with the South Central Ambulance Service and St John Ambulance Service to teach citizens CPR and how to use a defibrillator in the precious minutes between a 999 call and an ambulance arriving.

It began last year as an exercise with students and staff, and has since branched out to the whole community with sessions being run at schools and community centres with the support of the University’s Outreach Team. In October, the city also became the first in the south of England to host a Restart a Heart Day with an event on Commercial Road, where passers-by could practice CPR on manikins. Those who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital have a roughly 1 in 10 chance of survival, but if more people knew how to start CPR and use a defibrillator, the odds would shift in their favour.

During British Heart Week, pupils at Mayfield School in Portsmouth will be next in line to learn the life-saving skills on Wednesday 15 June. The lessons have been set-up in partnership with the 350+ NHS Careers Programme, hosted by Solent NHS Trust, which enables students aged 5 to 18-years-old the opportunity to discover a role within the health service.

Organiser Rob Isherwood, course lead for paramedic science at the University of Portsmouth, said:

“This project started as an experiment, so to have already helped more than a thousand people in 9 months is an incredible feat. The response from the public has also been amazing. At Priory School in Southsea, we taught 506 students in just two days!”

Education Outreach Lead at Solent NHS Trust, Kat Millmore-Davies, added:

“In students learning about CPR, they are developing their understanding of social responsibility; they aren’t just learning these skills to possibly help their loved ones, but any member of our community who may need it! What a wonderful skill to possess, giving someone that chance of life.

“Working with trained paramedics, medical professionals, university students and academics gives this project a unique and relevant delivery model. In conjunction with 350+ NHS Careers, Rob and his team will have reached a further 1,200 students this academic year.”