Abstract P78: Teaching Basic Life Support to School Children in Northern Ireland Using the ’ABC for life’ Programme
Aims: Northern Ireland has one of the highest incidences of ischaemic heart disease in the world. Teaching BLS to school children has previously been recommended. Our aim was to assess if eleven year old children can aquire and retain knowledge of basic life support (BLS) skills six months after a course of instruction (Study 1) and to assess the effectiveness of a three tier ‘peer training’ model using medical students, teachers and pupils (Study 2). This would be a cost effective way of significantly decreasing mortality from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.
Methods: The ‘ABC for Life’ programme is a regional course in BLS training in Northern Ireland specifically designed for 10 –12 year old school children. Medical students are trained as instructors in BLS by cardiac resuscitation officers at a major teaching hospital. Children were given a 22 point questionnaire before training and immediately after training to assess acquisition of BLS, and again six months after training to assess retention of knowledge (Study 1). In study 2, medical students instructed teachers how to teach BLS to their pupils. Pupils were given the same questionnaire to assess knowledge of BLS immediately before and after a teacher led training session at their school.
Results: Study 1: Children showed a highly significant increase in knowledge following the training session (46.8% vs 82.7%, p<0.001). Six months later their knowledge remained significantly higher than that of a control group who had never been trained (61.1% vs 46.8%, p<0.01). Study 2: Thirty eight teachers were trained from one education board. The first five children trained at each school were randomly selected. Questionnaires were returned for 44.7% pupils at baseline and 42.1% pupils after training. Mean baseline scores improved significantly after training (57.2% vs 77.7%, p<0.001).
Conclusion These studies demonstrate that by using medical students and teachers, a large number of children can be trained in a short time period and at relatively low cost. Children can acquire and retain knowledge of BLS for at least six months. The initiative provides manikins and training resources to all schools. To date, the programme has trained 350 schools. We have commenced research of physical skills using a recordable mainikin.