The Minister said: “CPR is a critical and potentially life-saving skill. In Northern Ireland, there are around 1,400 cardiac arrests a year that take place outside hospital. Less than one person in ten survives to be discharged from hospital. We know that providing CPR training within the school curriculum can have a clear and measurable impact on survival rates.
“My Department has therefore written to all post-primary schools setting out my expectation that pupils at Key Stage 3 will be trained in CPR from the 2022/23 school year. I have asked CCEA and the Education Authority to work closely with the British Heart Foundation and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to develop guidance, resources and training to support schools in this important work.”
CPR training kits are available free to all eligible post-primary schools through the British Heart Foundation’s ‘Call Push Rescue’ programme. It contains a range of resources to support the teaching of CPR, including reusable inflatable manikins and practice-while you-watch DVDs.
The Minister added: “The importance of CPR Training is clearly demonstrated by Clare and Melissa Doyle. Clare suffered a cardiac arrest in 2017. She was saved by the heroic and quick thinking actions of her daughter Melissa who performed CPR. Melissa had been taught CPR at her school, Fort Hill Integrated College by her school nurse using the British Heart Foundation’s Call Push Rescue training kit. Learning CPR at school saves lives."
Head of British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland Fearghal McKinney said: “Every day in Northern Ireland people tragically die because bystanders don't have the confidence or knowledge to perform CPR and defibrillation. We know that in other countries where children are taught CPR in school cardiac arrest survival rates are higher.
“We congratulate the Education Minister for taking this action to ensure every pupil will now leave post-primary school with the skills and confidence to save a life. This is a significant step that promises to improve the odds of survival for countless people who have a cardiac arrest in the future.”