Someone conducting Bystander CPR

A study by the British Medical Journal found that one of the reasons people don’t feel confident conducting bystander CPR is the difficulty they have accessing BLS training.

In a recent article, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) estimated that only 51% of people are confident they could perform CPR on a loved one. Unfortunately, the lack of confidence bystanders have in their resuscitation skills is something trainers are all too familiar with. This blog explores the importance of this essential skill and explains how CPR trainers can embolden and encourage communities to conduct life-saving resuscitation.

Why Bystander CPR Matters

As most resuscitation trainers know, bystander CPR can significantly impact the survival chances following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Of the 30,000 OHCAs that occur annually, just 10% survive when only emergency medical services carry out resuscitation. However, early CPR or defibrillation carried out by a trained bystander can double these chances.

How Can We Improve Community CPR Training?

Training must form a cornerstone for raising confidence in the community to conduct effective CPR. So, let’s explore which factors currently obstruct people from performing life-saving resuscitation and discuss how trainers and communities can manage these challenges.

Identifying a Cardiac Arrest or Heart Attack

A study by the University of Washington found that uncertainty surrounding the identification of a cardiac arrest or heart attack is a significant factor in a failure to carry out CPR. The research accepts that, while some bystanders have the necessary skills to conduct effective resuscitation, they are reluctant to do so for fear of causing injury to the person receiving CPR. The findings go on to describe community-level CPR accessibility as a ‘cornerstone’ in evolving life-saving education, which further highlights the importance for trainers to explore ways to improve community CPR training. By trainers focusing a larger part of their education processes on the ways to identify a heart attack or cardiac arrest, CPR teachers can embolden bystanders to employ their life-saving training more often.

a BHF infographic displaying heart attack symptoms

Image Credit: BHF

Teaching Young People Basic Life Support (BLS)

A 2020 investigation corroborates the importance of community CPR training. The study explored ways to strengthen the self-confidence to improve out-of-hospital life support, specifically among younger people.

The study encouraged 50 students aged 16-20 to answer whether or not they were confident carrying out emergency CPR. Having taken place in Sweden, the participants would have already received very minor CPR training as part of the mandatory national curriculum. The cohort then took part in a detailed two-hour theoretical and practical session led by a certified instructor. Next, they utilised Brayden Pro CPR manikins to practise BLS in line with the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) guidelines. The third and final step saw the participants answer the same questions.

The results found that the greater the amount of time spent educating young people on BLS techniques, the more likely they are to conduct emergency first aid, including CPR. These findings may seem self-evident at first glance. Still, when expressed numerically, it’s clear that detailed youth education would be an excellent way for trainers to improve community CPR training.

  • Participants were 39% more confident in identifying a cardiac arrest.
  • Participants were 26% more likely to conduct chest compressions.
  • Participants were 22% more likely to perform mouth ventilation.

Perhaps the most crucial statistic, though, was that after the training, 89% of the cohort said they would give first aid (including CPR) to someone suffering from a traumatic event such as a cardiac arrest. This was compared to just 54% before, a figure similar to that quoted by the BHF, clearly showing the need for trainers to educate young people in bystander CPR.

Widening CPR Training in the Community

A study by the British Medical Journal found that one of the reasons people don’t feel confident conducting bystander CPR is the difficulty they have accessing BLS training. As a result, various organisations have launched programmes to counteract this. The BHF has launched its RevivR online CPR training, which allows users to learn basic resuscitation skills in fifteen minutes. Similarly, social media giant Snapchat introduced a filter to encourage people to practice their CPR skills, while Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) developed an interactive Lifesaver film to simulate an emergency.

These tools provide an accessible and engaging gateway for communities to access CPR training. As established with the research above, detailed resuscitation education from a trained instructor is irreplaceable. The University of Southampton and NHS staff were aware of this, so last year, they took to the streets on a community-wide CPR training day. Medical and nursing students, along with NHS workers, trained residents on the high street of Southampton as part of Restart a Heart Day, run by the RCUK, ambulance services, universities, charities and first aid training groups.

Aaron Cotton, group leader for the university trainers, said that “once people gave it a go, then everyone kind of followed and got stuck in.” The 22-year-old student continued that “lots of interested parents and kids tried it out” before highlighting the importance of CPR in the family home. Aaron’s counterpart Derek Macadie (below), the Lead Resuscitation Officer for Southampton General Hospital, focussed on the importance of building confidence in communities. Derek cited the diversity of participants, with “people of all ages” and “even the football fans taking part.” Using a variety of dummies, Derek and Aaron seemed keen to keep the training fun and interesting.

Derek Macadie, CPR officer for Southampton University Hospital

Derek Macadie, Lead Resuscitation Officer, Southampton University Hospital

Image Credit: Hannah De Boltz

The engagement achieved by trainers like these shows how trainers can improve community CPR training. By being proactive and making the step to approach the public, it’s clear that life-saving resuscitation skills can become more widespread in our communities.

Enhance Your CPR Training with Brayden Manikins

The research discussed earlier highlights the importance of using the best possible CPR training equipment. This is something Brayden manikins can provide. They form part of an award-winning range of CPR training tools which provide a learning system that meets the needs of instructors and trainees in professional healthcare and community settings.

Real-time feedback and a variety of models enable learners to build confidence in their CPR skills and allow educators to monitor learners’ progress throughout. Click here or, for more information regarding the products, take the time to look at our extensive media library. Alternatively, if your queries are more detailed, please contact us for a more in-depth conversation.

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Further Reading