Published by BBC NEWS - 10th March 2022

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CPR training is set to be offered to all students at Cardiff University in a bid to save more lives.

A pilot scheme is under way and if successful, it’ll be rolled out across the organisation.

Just one in 20 people in Wales survive cardiac arrest – one of the worst rates in Europe.

And if all universities in Wales offered CPR training, up to 130,000 people would learn the life-saving skills to restart someone’s heart.

Ex-sports lecturer John Rawlins, 64, was given CPR after suffering a cardiac arrest.

In December 2020, he was found slumped against a wall in his gym following a 50-minute session on an exercise bike.

John Rawlins in a hospital bed with a nurse

“First of all, [a man] thought I was meditating, then he noticed I was slowly turning blue,” said John.

He was helped by two gym members and a member of staff, who used a defibrillator and gave John CPR, before the ambulance arrived.

John woke up five weeks later in intensive care at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales.

He said he “owes everything” to the quick reaction of the people around him.

“The more people who can do CPR, the more people that are confident, the greater the chances that people will survive it, and survive it with good outcomes,” he said.

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Image source, Getty Images

Medical student Elliot Phillips, 22, is leading the project. He said: “The perfect audience to learn these life-saving skills.

“It’s an opportunity to address the poor rate of survival in Wales.”

Students at the university’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture are taking part in the pilot.

Student Phoebe Reddin said: “Before today, if someone had collapsed in front of me I wouldn’t have had the confidence to know what I’d be doing wouldn’t make the situation worse.

“Knowing the basic things could literally help save someone’s life,” she said.

The aim is to offer the training to all new students at Cardiff University from September.

Dr Len Noakes, chair of Save a Life Cymru, said targeting students could make a big difference.

How to do CPR

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“Eighty per cent cardiac arrests happen at home,” Dr Noakes said.

“These students will be bringing those skills back home with them (and when) they’re out in the community they won’t be stepping back saying, ‘I don’t know what to do’, they’ll be going straight in.”

The Welsh government announced in March 2021 schools in Wales will be required to teach lifesaving skills and first aid under Wales’ new curriculum, after previously rejecting those calls.

The Students Save Lives scheme is thought to be the first in the world to use medical students to teach life-saving skills across an entire university.

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