Warwickshire students dont miss a beat with Heart Shield!

FF Leim Prince (front) with fire appliance

Students across Warwickshire are continuing to receive emergency life support training thanks to Heart Shield, a Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service programme delivered in partnership with Public Health Warwickshire and volunteers from Jaguar Land Rover’s Business Protection department.

The main aim of the programme is to help ensure secondary school students are trained in vital skills such as Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). On Monday 16 October, national ‘Restart a Heart Day’, they will be delivering this training to 220 pupils from The Coleshill School, Coventry Road. This is the largest number in a single day to receive the training in the 18 months since the programme was launched.

The year 8 pupils (aged 12-13) will take part in the hour long sessions and will begin by watching a DVD showing a cardiac arrest scenario and the benefits of bystander CPR. The students will then be split into smaller groups to undertake practical CPR training, learning how to put someone in the recovery position and how to use a defibrillator.

In a bid to reduce the risk of having a heart attack later in life, pupils will also be given key healthy heart messages, including tips on healthy eating and physical activity to help influence their families and friends about reducing the risks of Cardiovascular disease.

One of the Heart Shield trainers Leim Prince, a retained firefighter in Bidford on Avon, knows about the importance of this vital training all too well. Leim was aged nineteen when he received life-saving treatment including use of an AED. He was on holiday with friends when he was mugged, with the resulting blood loss causing him to go into cardiac arrest. The paramedics used the AED on arrival to stabilise his heart, and he was then taken to hospital where he made a full recovery. Leim said: “Volunteering to be part of the Heart Shield programme was an easy choice for me. It is so important for as many people as possible to know these skills- you never know when they could be used to save a life. If just one life is saved by one of the people we have helped to train, it will be worthwhile.”

Talking about the programme, Area Commander David Pemberton, from Warwickshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service said: “As a service we are committed to helping keep our communities safe, and working with young people to learn these life-saving skills is so important. CPR in particular is a very useful skill to learn and can be used by almost anyone and anywhere. An unconscious casualty suffering a cardiac arrest has no chance of survival without immediate lifesaving care, so the more people we can get involved in this fantastic programme, the more lives we can help to save.”

Warwickshire County Councillor Howard Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Fire and Community Safety added: “It’s fantastic that The Heart Shield Programme takes place throughout the year to engage with young people on these invaluable skills, and I’m pleased to hear of the huge number they plan to train on ‘Restart a Heart Day’. It is disappointing how reluctant people are to get involved when they see an emergency incident happening and this may be because of the fear of getting it wrong or a simple lack of knowledge. Programmes like this one can help to change that and save lives.”

Councillor Les Caborn, Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, said: “This unique programme provides young people across the county with the skills they need to help prevent fatalities and Heart Shield also helps to ensure that young people are given a wider overview of how to keep their heart healthy, allowing them to live longer, happier and healthier lives.”

“Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and Public Health Warwickshire have done an incredible job rolling the programme out across the county and we would encourage other schools to get involved.”