Become a life-saver by signing up for Restart a Heart Day 2022!

12 February 2022

Terry Porter, pictured right, with his life-saver Jon Thordarson

Terry Porter, pictured right, with his life-saver Jon Thordarson

Secondary schools are being urged to sign up for a free life-saving lesson from Yorkshire Ambulance Service to mark Restart a Heart Day 2022.

Staff and volunteers will visit secondary schools across Yorkshire to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to around 40,000 students on Friday 14 October.

Specialist Paramedic Jon Thordarson emphasised the importance of learning CPR after he was reunited with a stranger whose life he saved while travelling home from a holiday in Gran Canaria.

Jon, who is based in Hull, was on the plane waiting for take-off when a fellow passenger, Terry Porter, collapsed in cardiac arrest nearby.

With no other medics on the plane, Jon started CPR and gave six shocks with the plane’s defibrillator before the 50-year-old started showing signs of life. Terry was well enough to return to England six days later.

Jon said: “I’ve spent the last seven years volunteering as part of Restart a Heart Day, teaching people how to do CPR and what to do if someone has a cardiac arrest. Despite attending and managing out-of-hospital cardiac arrests on a regular basis for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, this is the first time it has happened while I’ve been off duty… and in a different country! Cardiac arrests can happen to anyone at any time and by knowing CPR, you can give that person the best possible chance of survival.”

Last month, Jon travelled to London and was reunited with Terry, who said: “It’s really difficult to sum up the experience. I am of course forever grateful to Jon for being there and not only giving me a second chance at life but also restoring my faith in people. There are indeed angels and heroes in this world. I wouldn’t be here today if he hadn’t stepped in and taken control. I now have first-hand experience of how CPR knowledge and expertise can save lives.”

The campaign launch comes as research confirms the effectiveness of the Restart a Heart Day training on people’s confidence and competence to step in and save the life of someone in cardiac arrest.

Results of a study among students who took part in last year’s training revealed that the life-saving lesson led to:

  • 90% being able to identify someone in cardiac arrest (48% increase from pre to post training)
  • 93% being confident to perform chest compressions (51% increase from pre to post training)
  • 58% being confident to use a defibrillator if there was one nearby (55% increase from pre to post training)
  • 93% being willing to perform CPR on a family member (33% increase from pre to post training)
  • 86% being willing to perform CPR on a stranger (42% increase from pre to post training).

Jason Carlyon, Community Engagement Manager for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “We were delighted with the results of the research which emphasise the importance of the CPR training on student’s knowledge, attitude and willingness to help in the event of a cardiac arrest. By making CPR training more accessible to all, we will be able to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.”

Secondary schools can register for Restart a Heart Day 2022 by completing the form here before the closing date on Friday 1 April.

Over 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest out of hospital in the UK every year. The earlier a patient can receive CPR and a shock from a defibrillator, the greater their chance of survival.

Currently in the UK, less than one (8.6%) in ten people survive a cardiac arrest. If we achieved the same survival rates of countries like Norway (25%), where CPR is taught in schools, an additional 100 lives could be saved each week - the equivalent of approximately 5,000 every year.

Restart a Heart Day, which is supported by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service Charity, is again being organised in conjunction with the Resuscitation Council (UK), the British Heart Foundation, which provides training equipment to eligible schools free of charge as part of its Nation of Lifesavers campaign, and St John Ambulance.

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