COULD you save a life?

Any one of us could find ourselves in such a situation - the thought provoking question is would we know what to do?

Every year there are around 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests across the UK but, sadly, less than one in 10 survive.

I’d heard about CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) but couldn’t have put it into practice until I embarked on a course with Odsal Fire Station last year.

My inspiration was the lifesaving staff on the KLM flight who saved my Dad’s life after he suffered a heart attack on a flight to New York. Appreciating what they had done for him made me want to learn this life-saving skill.

During the CPR training session, Blue Watch manager Andy Horsley spoke about how he felt CPR should be part of the school curriculum - interestingly plans are now in place for that to happen.

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, recently comfirmed plans for all young people in England to be taught how to administer CPR, the purpose of defibrillators, and basic first aid treatments for common injuries by the time they leave secondary school.

Mr Hinds said: “On arriving at university I was struck that the American students I met knew how to do CPR - and I didn’t have a clue. As a father I want my children to have the knowledge and skills they need to keep themselves safe and help others, and as Education Secretary I want that for every child.

“Learning the basic skills of first aid and techniques like CPR will give young people the confidence to know that they can step in to help someone else in need and in the most extreme cases - it could potentially save a life.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service area manager, Nick Smith, says: “At WYFRS we are really pleased with the move from the DofE to introduce CPR training into schools.We work with our colleagues at Yorkshire Ambulance Service to help deliver training to young people as part of the annual ‘Restart a Heart’ day, so the latest push to introduce skills to young people to be the next generation of lifesavers can only be a positive step forward.”

In some countries that already teach CPR in schools, cardiac arrest survival rates are more than double those of the UK.

The proposals, due to be rolled out in 2020, are part of the Department for Education’s plans to strengthen teaching of health, sex and relationships education.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “The Department for Education’s plans to introduce CPR on to the curriculum is a decisive moment in the battle to improve cardiac arrest survival rates, following years of campaigning by the BHF and others.

“There are 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests every year, and each day people needlessly die because bystanders don’t have the confidence or knowledge to perform CPR and defibrillation.

“This is why all schoolchildren should be given the opportunity to learn these skills.

“Introducing CPR lessons into health education in all state-funded secondary schools is a significant step that promises to improve the odds of survival for countless people who have a cardiac arrest in the future.”

Someone who has experienced first-hand the life-saving benefits of CPR is Frances Hammond. Often referred to as ‘Hero Hammond’ by pupils at Queensbury Academy in Bradford where she is head of PE, Frances received the British Heart Foundation CPR Hero award last year after saving the life of her three-year-old neighbour.

Frances was called into action by Maryam Ugradar’s relative who asked if she knew first aid. When Frances arrived at the family’s house, close to her Mirfield home, Maryam was lying in the back garden surrounded by her frantic family.

“She was lying on the floor, eyes fixed to the sky and I couldn’t feel her pulse,” recalls Frances, who was told the little girl had fallen into the garden pond.

Frances immediately started CPR, a skill she learned through her job. “I started doing CPR and she came round,” she explains.

Queensbury Academy is already proactive in teaching its students life saving skills: “We do Re-Start a Heart every year with the British Heart Foundation and St John Ambulance - 200 students learn CPR in one day.

“The more people who know about first aid more lives will hopefully be saved,” says Frances.