The American Heart Association and Norway's Laerdal Foundation for Acute Medicine have given $50,000 to the research group, Rescu, to teach a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course that takes only 22 minutes to Toronto-area high school students. Students also will learn how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
The course uses an instructional DVD and a small inflatable mannequin.
Only 51 percent of Toronto high schools teach CPR, even though it is part of the grade 9 curriculum. Only 6 percent of high schools train students to use an AED, which is found in less than half the schools, according to studies by Laurie Morrison, MD, who heads Rescu.
Morrison said the low CPR training rates in schools may reflect the fact that the four hours of instruction competes for time in the busy curriculum. In addition, private schools do not have any funding to provide instruction. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada's CPR Anytime kit costs only $35 each.
"It is clear that the current CPR and AED training strategies need to be evaluated and changed in order for students to become the next generation of responsible citizens willing and ready to perform bystander CPR," Morrison said.
The pilot project initially involves about 250 students at six schools in Toronto, Burlington and Oakville. The first session took place on Nov. 23.
Morrison and colleagues hope the pilot program will be expanded to all high schools in Ontario and that students will teach this CPR method to friends and relatives, thereby raising survival rates of people who suffer heart attacks outside of hospitals.
Rescu is partnering in this project with researchers from the University of Toronto and a number of nonprofit organizations including the Hospital for Sick Children, Sunnybrook-Osler Centre for Prehospital Care, Safe Communities Canada, the Toronto Paramedics Association, Halton Region Emergency Medical Services, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.
Rescu is part of the Rescue Outcomes Consortium, a large, multinational research collaboration of 10 sites across the U.S. and Canada, studying how new tools and treatments can improve survival rates among people who suffer cardiac arrest or life-threatening traumatic injury.