Volunteers from Kidderminster’s St John Ambulance unit will be attending the Severn Valley Railway on Sunday, October 15 to raise awareness of cardiac arrests and the use of cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation to save lives.
At both Kidderminster and Bridgnorth stations, the volunteers will teach the public how to deliver CPR and use a defibrillator. During the day, they’ll also attempt a non-stop ‘CPR-athon’ on board one of the heritage railway’s services, traveling from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.
The event is being held in advance of the Europe-wide Restart a Heart Day on Monday, October 16, which aims to bring awareness, education and training to the public.
“The early moments are critical,” said Brandon Keechan, the manager of St John Ambulance Kidderminster unit. “It really can make all the difference to have someone there who knows what to do. By delivering first hand care and treatment, with CPR or defibrillation, you’re essentially keeping someone alive until an ambulance arrives.
“Members of our unit frequently carry out community first responding, and we’ve attended many incidences of cardiac arrest. We know that it really makes a difference when there’s someone who knows how to act quickly. Quite simply, someone’s life could depend on it.”
“We’ll be on hand at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth stations, to demonstrate what to do in a life-threatening emergency,” added St John Ambulance volunteer Christine Nicholls. “You don’t need medical training to do CPR, and we want to help people understand that anyone can do it. You never know when you might need it and it’s proven to save lives.”
During the day, members of the St John Ambulance unit will carry out continuous CPR on a practice dummy for the one-and-a-quarter hours it takes to travel by heritage train from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth. Unit manager Brandon Keechan said: “We wanted to replicate the amount of time you might need to do CPR for, depending on how long it takes for an ambulance to reach the scene. It can be very strenuous, but we’ll be working in tandem and taking turns to give chest compressions. Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after a cardiac arrest, can double a victim’s chance of survival.”
SVR volunteer Martin Eaton runs basic first aid training courses for staff at the heritage railway. Outside his volunteering, Martin works as a paramedic for the West Midlands Ambulance Service. “Many customer-facing volunteers at the SVR are trained in first aid, and we have defibrillators located at Kidderminster, Bewdley, Highley and Bridgnorth stations,” he said.
“Because we’re operating in a mainly rural setting, it is often volunteers and bystanders who are on scene first at medical emergencies. Knowing the basics, how to carry out CPR and the availability of a defibrillator saves lives. I’ve witnessed this many times and it’s always down to members of the public getting the basics right before the ambulance service arrives. It’s great that the SVR is getting involved in Restart a Heart Day.”
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