Nursing studies

‘Effective CPR can be taught in less than 20 minutes – and that’s time well spent’

Nursing students in Scotland held a teaching event that trained more than 135 people

Nursing students in Scotland held a teaching event that trained more than 135 people

‘A lot of people didn’t realise how quickly they could learn to do CPR.’ 
Picture: Claire Fleck

Earlier this month, a small team of final-year nursing students organised an event to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the public, as part of a Scotland-wide campaign to increase survival rates following a cardiac arrest.

‘We were nervous to start with, but by the end of the day we looked back and thought it had been a great day,’ says Mark Drummond, a fourth-year honours student at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, who helped to arrange the event with around ten fellow students.

‘It can happen to anyone’

According to the Save a Life for Scotland campaign, of the 3,500 people treated each year by the ambulance service after a cardiac arrest, just one in 12 will survive. ‘It’s a scarily low number,’ says Mr Drummond. ‘Every week, 70 people are having a sudden cardiac arrest. It can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time.’

During the day-long event, the team taught vital life-saving skills to more than 135 people, including university staff and students in other departments, groups of employees from nearby companies, and members of the local community.

Easy procedure

‘It was good to raise awareness of how easy CPR can be,’ says Mr Drummond. ‘A lot of people didn’t realise how quickly they could learn to do it. Effective CPR can be taught in less than 20 minutes – and that’s time well spent if we can save the lives of several hundred more people each year.’

Open to all age groups, the event featured user-friendly specialist equipment, including CPR mannequins and automated external defibrillators. Participants watched a film before being talked through the procedure, followed by an opportunity to ask questions. Each session lasted 15-25 minutes, and those who attended received a certificate showing they had been trained in CPR.

Learning leadership skills 

There were benefits for the students too. ‘We’re all approaching the end of our studies and it was a good boost for us,’ says Mr Drummond. ‘It’s helped me to realise that teaching and leadership are not as hard as I thought they would be.

Mark Drummond (right) with fellow student Lauren Anderson

‘I might have to be someone’s mentor in the next year or two, but now that doesn’t feel quite so daunting.’

Working as a team was also useful. ‘We all learned more about teamworking,’ says Ms Drummond, who wants to work in emergency care. ‘It was very much a group effort. Everyone taking part took a really positive spin from it.’

Empowering students

For Heather Bain, RGU’s strategic lead for academic programmes, the event was a celebration of everything the students had learned throughout their four years of study. ‘It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this and it went really well. We all feel very proud,’ she says.

The chance to organise and lead the event themselves, with minimal input from staff, was important. ‘It has increased their confidence because they were able to demonstrate they had the skills to teach others, and they all felt they were able to give something back to the local community,’ Dr Bain adds.

‘Lots of members of the public came along, and afterwards many were very complimentary about the students, saying what a credit they were to the university.’ 

Quick facts about CPR 

  • Performing CPR can at least double the chances of survival, says the Save a Life for Scotland campaign, which is funded by the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, St John Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

  • Launched in 2015, the campaign aims to double the survival rate by 2020 – saving at least another 1,000 lives

  • CPR carried out by bystanders is critical to achieving this target, says the campaign, which aims to equip an extra 500,000 people with CPR skills by 2020

  • The British Heart Foundation (BHF) says that even those who haven’t been trained in CPR can perform a hands-only version that doesn’t involve rescue breaths 

  • The BHF also offers information on how to perform CPR, including a demonstration video 




Lynne Pearce is a health journalist 

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