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Importance of CPR Education: Starting Early to Save Lives

Updated: May 31, 2023

According to a recent scientific statement, the journey of learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills can commence as early as the age of 4. As children grow older, they can build upon these skills, enabling them to perform effective chest compressions on training manikins by the age of 10. The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), in conjunction with the American Heart Association and the European Resuscitation Council, has emphasized the significance of early CPR education in a publication in the journal Circulation.

The writing group, consisting of resuscitation scientists from around the world, conducted a comprehensive review of over 100 research articles on CPR training for students. The review revealed that school-aged children exhibit a high motivation to learn life-saving techniques and often act as conduits for knowledge dissemination, sharing what they have learned with others.

Chairing the statement writing group, Bernd W. Böttiger, M.D., M.L., FAHA, a distinguished professor and head of the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine at the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany, stated, "Training students has become a key element in increasing the number of individuals capable of performing CPR when cardiac arrest occurs outside of a hospital, potentially leading to higher rates of CPR and cardiac arrest survival worldwide. This research review aims to urge clinicians, policymakers, local school officials, and the general public to take action during cardiac emergencies whenever possible."

Given that the majority of cardiac arrests outside of a hospital occur at home, it is vital for all family members to understand how to respond in such situations. Comilla Sasson, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, a member of the statement writing committee and a practicing emergency medicine physician, emphasized the potential of building CPR skills at a young age and reinforcing them consistently throughout a student's educational journey. This approach has the power to educate generations of students and their parents on how to respond to cardiac arrest, perform chest compressions, administer rescue breaths, utilize an automated external defibrillator (AED), and ultimately increase survival rates.

Cardiac arrest outside of a hospital is a leading cause of death worldwide, with survival rates ranging between 2% and 20% globally. Immediate recognition and action from a bystander are crucial for improving these statistics.

The statement suggests that even if children are too young or physically small to perform effective chest compressions, they can still learn the steps and rhythm required for proper CPR and gain knowledge about AEDs. Research has demonstrated significant community preparedness enhancement as school-aged children share their learnings with family members, friends, and neighbors.

Alongside school-based initiatives, it is essential for families to have a cardiac emergency response plan in place. Regular practice and delegation of responsibilities within the household can ensure preparedness:

  1. Determine who will call 911 using a cell phone and keep it on speaker while speaking with the emergency dispatcher and initiating CPR.

  2. Identify who will perform Hands-Only CPR immediately, doubling or tripling the chances of survival.

  3. Ensure that the entrance to your residence is unlocked, allowing first responders easy access.

This scientific statement was prepared by a volunteer writing group representing the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, including member organizations such as the American Heart Association and the European Resuscitation Council. Scientific statements play a crucial role in raising awareness about cardiovascular diseases and stroke-related matters, facilitating informed healthcare decisions. They outline the current understanding of a topic and identify areas requiring further research. While scientific statements inform the development of guidelines, they do not make specific treatment recommendations. For official clinical practice recommendations, refer to the guidelines provided by the American Heart Association.

Source: Learn, Enjoy, and Save Life. Healthforce Training Center offers CPR Training and certifications such as Basic Life Support (BLS), Advance Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advance Life Support (PALS), CPR AED, Pediatric First Aid CPR AED, and First Aid CPR AED.

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