Norfolk teachers and pupils urged to become life-savers

Kate ScotterMore schools are being urged to sign up to a pioneering scheme which provides life-saving skills to teachers and pupils.Kate Scotter

More schools are being urged to sign up to a pioneering scheme which provides life-saving skills to teachers and pupils.

Figures reveal that 12 British children die from cardiac arrest every single week. This figure has risen by 50pc in recent years.

For Norfolk, this means five children a year die from the condition. In a bid to curb the growing total and to boost the country's cardiac arrest survival rate, frontline ambulance staff Jeanne Reynolds and Peter Simpson set up the Heartstart Medics Schools Initiative.

The free programme, which is run in association with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) enables teachers to go on a one day training course to learn life-saving skills, which they pass on the children as part of their lessons.

Since the Evening News reported last year how the award-winning scheme had signed up its 100th Norfolk school, another 20 schools have joined.

But today a plea was made for more schools in the county to sign up in order to ensure teachers and pupils have the best possible knowledge should someone go into cardiac arrest.

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Mrs Reynolds, who has been an ambulance technician for nine years and runs the training days with Mr Simpson on their days off, said: 'The scheme is still successful and rather than us trying to persuade the schools to join, we're getting a lot of schools and teachers coming to us instead.

'We have 120 schools signed up now, but there are about 450 schools in Norfolk so it's steady progress.'

Last year, the scheme was awarded the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, which recognises the vital role played by unsung heroes of the voluntary sector and in the community.

According to research, the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest are critical to survival, which means that the sooner someone can recognise the symptoms and start giving first aid, the better.

The programme is completely free to the schools as all expenses are paid for by the BHF, including the cost of supplying cover to allow the teachers to attend a training day.

It can take place at any school from primary to secondary, private to special. Younger children will learn the very basic skills, such as just recognising someone has collapsed and calling emergency services, and then as they get older they can learn CPR and how to control bleeding.

Schools which have undertaken the training include Notre Dame High School, George White Junior School and Acle High School. The Whitlingham Outdoor Education has also signed up to the scheme.

In April, a free training day is being held in Norwich for teachers who are interested in becoming affiliated to the BHF.

This month is also National Heart Month and the British Heart Foundation is calling on people to turn red during February and take a stand against the killer diseases.

This week, the Sportspark is holding a series of events as part of the annual event. Older people can join in gentle exercise classes for free from tomorrow to Thursday and there will be free health and BMI checks on offer on Saturday.

To find out more about the Heartstart scheme, go to Anyone interested in the training day in April, should call Mrs Reynolds on 07796 031299.

For further information on National Heart Month visit

Are you setting up a life-saving project? Contact Evening News reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email