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A course that's all heart

Date published: 02 November 2016

New students at Oldham Sixth Form College have been learning one of their most valuable lessons ever – how to save a life.

Around 60 A-level health and social care students spent two days learning from Heartstart Oldham volunteers how simple skills can save lives in life-threatening situations.

Supported by Rotary, Heartstart was set up in Oldham around 14 years ago and since then has trained around 6,000 people how to give cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in community groups and schools, including almost a thousand sixth-form college students.

The first successful large scale demonstration Heartstart gave was at the sixth form college. Research shows if a heart attack victim is given CPR quickly their chance of survival rises from 25 per cent to 60 per cent. Each week about 1,000 people die before they reach hospital after suffering some kind of acute heart problem.

Heartstart volunteers showed college students how to deal with an unconscious casualty who has stopped breathing, showed the importance of calling an ambulance urgently and how to put a casualty in the recovery position. They used resuscitation dolls to practice CPR skills, then learned what to do in cases of serious bleeding and choking, and how to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack.

They also learned how to use a defibrillator – the electric-shock device which kick-starts the heart into resuming its natural rhythm.
Oldham Rotary Club secretary Alan Whitehead explained: “We’re really committed to Heartstart; we have trained a lot of people, including a lot of school staff, over the years, who then train their pupils. We heard about it being done by a Rotary club at a conference years ago and thought it would be a good project to set up in Oldham. It’s been a huge success.”
Heartstart was set up with funding from the British Heart Foundaton and help from the Royal Oldham Hospital and Oldham Council’s healthy schools unit.