How much of a difference could it make?
It could save many lives. Roughly five people a day suffer a cardiac arrests and only about 12 – 13% of them survive to hospital discharge. We are lucky in our country to have a reasonably high level of bystander CPR assistance, with help provided to the victim by people nearby in around 72% of cases. In other parts of the world this rate can fall to 10% or less. Our willingness to muck in and help out those in need is a national trait to be proud of. More, however, can be done, and with adequate training and sufficient access to resources such as defibrillators the rate of survival can be significantly increased.
Could it be dangerous for children if they do it wrong?
No, CPR training is safe and supervised. Chest compressions are practiced on dummies, not other children! Mouth to mouth can be practiced using a purpose built disposable CPR mask, which prevents the transfer of germs. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which are used to deliver an electric shock to restart a heart following cardiac arrest, provide clear audio instructions on how to use them properly. The shock is only delivered if the person in need requires it; the machine can sense whether this is the case.
Great idea, but will it be expensive?
Getting first aid and CPR training as an individual can be costly, whereas providing it in schools as part of the core curriculum is much more cost effective. When teachers themselves are trained in CPR, they can pass this learning on to their students as part of existing time slots for health education. Training manikins can be pooled between different schools and shared as required. The organisations involved are happy to support and advise the Ministry of Education on resourcing and any other requirements, and we are confident the economies of scale involved will make this the most affordable way to provide CPR training to New Zealanders.