BLOG: New competitive CPR training research in local schools nears end of first year
My team has been testing a new way to teach cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR) in Manchester sixth forms. The research will
celebrate its first academic year when the summer holidays start in
Why are we doing it?
Would you know what to do if someone nearby had a cardiac
arrest? Have you had CPR training? Do you remember any of it and
would you be brave enough to use your skills on a real person to
save their life?
Cardiac arrest isn't just caused by a heart attack so it can
happen to literally anyone. Drowning, electrocution, chocking
and bleeding can all cause someone to need CPR.
In England the survival rate for an out-of-hospital cardiac
arrest is 8.6%, which is much lower than many other European
countries where the figures are nearer to 20%. This problem is
caused by not enough people knowing how to do CPR because training
is costly and isn't compulsory. In addition, even if you have CPR
training, this skill has been shown to very rapidly disappear after
It's really important that as many people as possible know how
to do CPR, and equally importantly, that they can maintain their
skill after training. We have designed this innovative training
scheme to do exactly that; increase the number of people who can
perform good quality CPR so that survival of cardiac arrests
outside of hospitals is more likely.
This research involves leaving an advanced CPR manikin in each
school that tells you how to improve your CPR skill and gives you a
score at the end. The staff and students can train on the machine
as often as they like and upload their scores to an online
leaderboard to compete with other students in both their school and
other schools. We are studying if this training paradigm has an
effect on CPR performance or skill retention, and the role of
self-motivated practice and motivation while training.
When's it taking place?
This study started in schools in September 2015 and has been
running throughout the whole of the school calendar. With each
term, new schools have been included and more students and teachers
have learnt, practiced, and hopefully improved and maintained their
CPR skill. The six schools currently involved contain approximately
6,500 sixth form students who are eligible to participate and, when
staff are included, this is a huge base of individuals who can now
learn CPR in their place of work/study at times that suit them.
I have really enjoyed working with the schools. Our most recent
school to join the study came online last month and is being
championed by a student. It's great to see how enthusiastic
students have become about CPR and how it can spark some really
interesting conversations and ideas. I try to live tweet the
questions and answers whenever I go to a school because some of
them are so original and interesting. The competition element is
always a point of conversation especially if there is an
opportunity to be better than a teacher at something!
Who's taking part?
This new training scheme was developed by RMCH staff in
partnership with research teams across the world in the INSPIRE
network (INSPIRE is a network of researchers, clinicians, and
educators working together to improve medical care using
simulation). I am spearheading this research, as I work towards my
PhD, led by my colleague Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist and
Paediatric Intensive Care Retrieval Physician, Professor Ralph
How is it all coming together?
I have really enjoyed working on this research this year. It
isn't always smooth sailing though as this research is so new which
means I experience all the issues first hand without anyone warning
me because no one has done it before! It is simultaneously the most
exciting and frustrating part of research. Additionally, and
sometimes strangely, I like writing research papers, running stats,
and going from raw data to a research paper because that's the bit
where all the running around, emergency plan Bs and late lunches
are worth it and you know something no one else in the world knew
before. Currently I am working on two papers from this project
which I hope to have published soon and over the next 2 months I am
presenting this data at a European and an International Conference.
I am looking forward to making the programme bigger and better next
Right now this research is centred in Manchester but I already
have wheels in motion to widen this scheme internationally and
already have institutions interested in the USA, Africa, and
I hope that this training scheme can keep reaching more and more
people and really make a difference. If the UK were to match the
survival rates of Norway for out of hospital cardiac arrests, an
additional 5,000 families every single year wouldn't have to lose a
loved one. I think that's absolutely worth trying to achieve and
why this research means so much to me.
To find out more and get your school involved in this project,
please get in touch with me:Deborah.Aitken@cmft.nhs.uk
If you would like any other general advice or information about
taking part in research, please contact RMCH Divisional Research
Manager, Alison Robinson:Alison.Robinson@cmft.nhs.uk.