Teaching kids to save lives

Society members teaching CPR to the public during a community programme in Penang.

Penang Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Society is looking to increase CPR training in schools.

Its committee member and head of schools’ CPR programme Dr Kwanhathai Darin Wong said teaching CPR skills to schoolchildren was one of the most effective ways of improving community CPR rates in the long term.

Dr Wong, a senior consultant emergency physician at Hospital Pulau Pinang, said there was strong support for holding CPR training in schools.

Dr Wong says communities with the highest CPR performance rates are those that teach it in schools.Dr Wong says communities with the highest CPR performance rates are those that teach it in schools.“Firstly, a cardiac arrest can suddenly occur during sporting events like badminton, football or futsal on school premises.

“Secondly and more importantly, research around the world has found that communities that have the highest CPR performance rates are those that have CPR taught in schools.”

She said that in recent years, the society had started to expand training to the public as most reversible sudden cardiac arrests occurred in public areas, often in the presence of family members.

Penang CPR Society was in the Malaysia Book of Records for the “largest mass CPR training” with 6,802 participants in 2015, she said.

Established 25 years ago, Penang CPR Society was formed by a small group of doctors, nurses and medical assistants from Hospital Pulau Pinang.

This pioneering group of clinicians set up the first intensive cardiac care and cardiothoracic services in Malaysia.

One of the society’s founders and former Hospital Pulau Pinang consultant anesthesiologist Dr Ng Siew Hian said improving CPR skills among medical staff was the primary objective of setting up the society.

At that time, Dr Ng said it was recognised that first-aiders were using outdated CPR methods and there was a lack of CPR awareness among Malaysians.

She said while multiple studies had shown the effectiveness of citizen or community CPR in saving lives, there was non-uniformity of CPR standards among healthcare providers.

“It was then that I realised how important it is to have at least one life-saver in every household.

“To achieve this, we sought to introduce the training starting with schools,” she said.

In the society’s first 15 years, CPR was taught to healthcare providers and it’s only in the last 10 years that this has been extended to the public.

In the society’s early days, it faced funding and trainer shortages, Dr Ng said, noting that CPR training was well-received by the public.

Dr Goh says it is vital for healthcare providers to have CPR-related skills in accordance with international guidelines.Dr Goh says it is vital for healthcare providers to have CPR-related skills in accordance with international guidelines.“We have had good response from schools, multinational corporations and factories.”

Current president Dr Goh Eng Leong, a consultant cardiologist, said the society had over 100 members.

He said that among the society’s aims was achieving a standard of training and competence in resuscitation that would ensure the best possible outcome for patients who experienced cardiac arrest.

“We also want to promote the science of resuscitation, increase knowledge and more importantly, response from the public.”

Dr Goh said the society was also looking into being actively involved in research and development of resuscitation knowledge and skills.

“We want our healthcare providers to have CPR-related knowledge and skills in accordance with local and international guidelines or protocol.”

Last Aug 29, a 52-year-old man suffered sudden cardiac arrest after playing badminton at a Permatang Tinggi church hall in Seberang Perai, Penang.

His wife and three others performed CPR and delivered electric shocks to his heart using the building’s automated external defibrillator (AED).

The man survived and is well today after undergoing heart bypass surgery.

Penang CPR Society committee member Mary Lim said AED training was conducted for some 100 church members after the defibrillator was donated in 2017 and the man’s wife and another of his rescuers were among the participants.

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