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Doctors teach the first schools’ life-saving classes in Devon

Dr Nikole Norman teaching CPR to students
Dr Nikole Norman teaching CPR to students

Published: 3 April 2019

Doctors working for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust have begun teaching children vital life-saving classes at the first school in Devon to welcome a new national project.

Children are learning how to save lives thanks to junior doctors from Torbay Hospital who have volunteered to deliver the project – teaching students the emergency life-saving procedure cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The first school in the county to benefit from #CPRinSchools is The Spires College in Torquay where about 100 students aged 11 are learning how to restart hearts on demonstration dummies under the guidance of Dr Jon Sheen and colleagues Dr Michael Zervos and Dr Nikole Norman.

The main aims of the project are to give first aid skills to future generations, encourage closer working between local healthcare providers and schools and enable healthcare trainees to expand their skills and confidence in teaching and leadership.

One of the pupils taking the class, aged 12, told how he helped save his Nan’s life, even though he only picked up the basics of CPR from watching a film and is now learning how do so properly.

He said: “I learned it from a film. I tried to stop her falling, but couldn’t. I did the chest compressions – like we learned today – before the ambulance came. Nan then woke up and had to go to hospital. I was a bit worried about doing it. My uncle and my Nan said I’d done well. It’s important to know how to do it properly now.”

Dr Sheen said: “#CPRinSchools is a fantastic national project, which we are proud to be the first team in Devon to roll out. It is proving popular in Torbay, where schools are fast taking up our offer to teach life-saving skills.

“So far we’ve met with great enthusiasm from schools, teachers and more importantly the students. The children really grasp the basics of CPR and putting patients in the recovery position. This is a skill for life and a skill for saving life. You never know when you might need emergency life-support, and you can save a life at any age.”

The project is also aimed at helping newly qualified doctors with their training.

Jon added: “This is not only essential first aid for the children to learn, but also benefits newly qualified doctors like ourselves and colleagues who are taking part in delivering the teaching.

“By organising and teaching these classes we expand our skills and confidence in teaching and leadership – all an important part of being a doctor. So far we are finding it very rewarding teaching energetic children who want to learn. Hopefully they can pass on their new skills!”

Lewis Garforth, Physical Education teacher at The Spires College, said: “We’re grateful to the doctors for giving up their spare time to come to our school.

“I’d urge all schools to take up their community spirited offer to teach what is a vital life-saving skill we should all have at any age.”

#CPRinSchools is a national initiative for trainee healthcare professionals to teach CPR to children in schools. The project has gained significant support nationally from both senior and junior doctors including the UKFPO (the body responsibly for the training of newly qualified doctors), GMC and Royal Colleges and has been acknowledged by the Prime Minister at the NHS70 reception at Downing Street. The UK Government and Education Secretary are committed to first aid teaching to children in schools.