The American Heart Association has been advocating what you call “bystander CPR”, e.g. cardiopulmonary resuscitation by lay persons. After all, almost 80% of cardiac arrests occur in private homes. The message is clear: with proper training, anybody can perform the life-saving procedure of CPR.
In many countries in Europe, children as young as 9 years are trained at school to perform CPR. A group of Austrian scientists investigated whether this practice really makes sense. The school children received six hours of emergency life support training, including
· Calling for emergency services,
· Performing CPR, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
· Usage of the recovery position
· Use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs)
The study results showed that even four months after the training, children still retained the knowledge and skills they learned. 86% of the children tested were still able to perform CPR.
According to Dr. Fritz Sterz of the Medical University of Vienna:
“The usefulness of CPR training in schools has been questioned since young students may not have the physical and cognitive skills needed to perform such complex tasks correctly . We found that, in fact, students as young as 9 years are able to successfully and effectively learn basic life support skills. As in adults, physical strength may limit depth of chest compressions and ventilation volumes, but skill retention is good.”
More details from the study:
· Children can be taught CPR education even at primary school level.
· Children’s retention skills are just as good as adults.
· Physical strength is the main limiting factor for children, with BMI influencing on the depth of the chest compressions or the amount of air inhaled during rescue breath delivery.
· Children’s cognitive skills are not age-dependent and with retraining, their CPR performance will improve over time.
In other words, training children on basic emergency life support is well worth it, according to the study. What do you think? Would you like your school-aged kids to be trained in CPR?