'Heart Starters' campaign trains next generation of lifesavers

Issue date: 05 October 2016

Heart Starters – Press launch at UWE Bristol Glenside Campus, Child nursing simulation suite Tuesday 18 October 2016 October 09:00

What would you do if someone you loved went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing? It's something you don't want to think about, but the reality is early intervention can save lives.

A campaign to train the next generation of potential lifesavers across the West called 'Great Western Heart Starters' is being launched at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) on Tuesday 18 October 2016.

Medics including doctors, paramedics, and UWE Bristol nursing and allied health professions students are teaming up with the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) critical care team to deliver Heart Starters CPR training in secondary schools.

The GWAAC crew know the importance of early intervention, and take the skills of the hospital to the scene of an incident.

However the moments before they arrive on scene are crucial, which is why the team are delivering the CPR training.

Jeff White, UWE Bristol Paramedic Lecturer, said, “Bystander intervention when someone suffers a heart attack can make all the difference. A recent factsheet prepared by NHS England suggested that if we can increase bystander initiated CPR from current 32% to 42% nationally we would be able to save 300 lives per annum. In the US and Sweden social media and mobile apps are being successfully harnessed to alert CPR trained bystanders and to inform about the nearest defibrillator location.”

UWE Bristol organiser Mandy Bancroft said, “The University will involve more than 120 students in Heart Starters with a programme that will begin in Bristol and eventually roll out across the West Country over the coming year.

“Taking part in Heart Starters fosters social responsibility and citizenship as the students share their knowledge and become involved in a key health outreach campaign. Each volunteer will work with professionals from GWAAC and give talks and demonstrations. The school students will be given the chance to practice basic life skills on specially adapted mannequins.

“UWE Bristol gives students many opportunities for work related skills development outside of normal course placement. Taking part in campaigns like Heart Starters helps our students to stand out when they look for employment post-graduation, as they can demonstrate additional work related experience.

GWAAC Lead Doctor, Dr Matt Thomas, said, “Heart Starters aims to equip the next generation of potential lifesavers with the skills they need to help someone who goes into cardiac arrest. The outcomes for patients who have received bystander interventions prior to our team arriving are much more positive.

“In a situation where someone's life is in danger every minute counts. We can be anywhere in the region that we cover within 20 minutes, but the care that the person receives before we get there can play a vital part in their survival. Everyone should know basic CPR skills, and our team are passionate about helping people to acquire these skills, and giving them the confidence to use them if they have to.”

Earlier in 2016 Kristian Kyte, a UWE Bristol nursing student just happened to be on hand when he was attending a concert at the Bristol Hippodrome. He performed emergency CPR on Judith Mansfield (71) and saved her life receiving a standing ovation for his efforts that were reported in the national media.

Kristian Kyte graduates in November, he said, “I was in the right place at the right time and because I had the knowledge I was able to do something positive. The more people there are who know what to do the better someone's chances should an emergency scenario occur.”

Professor Steve West, UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor and Patron of the GWAAC said, “I am delighted that UWE Bristol is supporting this important project. Great Western Heart Starters is all about sharing knowledge, empowering and inspiring young people. The scheme will play an important role in helping grow a society that is community spirited and educated in the practical as well as the cerebral. We know that offering up opportunities such as this really does help our students stand out from the crowd. Nursing and Midwifery and Allied Health Professions employment records post-graduation at UWE Bristol are 100%.”

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