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Acle school signs up to heart scheme

PUBLISHED: 16:08 13 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:03 03 July 2010

Norfolk paramedics Jeanne Reynolds and Peter Simpson are well used to dealing with heart attacks.

But thanks to a trip to America and keen children, the pair's life saving skill are now spreading across the county.

Norfolk paramedics Jeanne Reynolds and Peter Simpson are well used to dealing with heart attacks.

But thanks to a trip to America and keen children, the pair's life saving skill are now spreading across the county.

In just over four years 108 schools have signed up to their Heartstart scheme which teaches youngsters and teachers how to help heart attack and cardiac arrest victims.

Mrs Reynolds and Mr Simpson set up the project after a visit to America showed that 43pc of people survive cardiac arrests compared to 2pc in Britain, because schools' curricular include life-saving techniques.

In Norfolk 15 people a day have heart attacks and four children die a year from cardiac arrests.

It is hoped Heartstart will increase people's chances of survival as the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest are the most important in saving lives.

Since its humble beginnings at Northrepps Primary School, Heartstart has taught thousands of pupils and teachers how to give CPR, put people in the recovery position and what to tell ambulance crews.

Yesterday Acle High School was in a party mood as it held a celebration to mark the fact it was recently the 100th school to sign up to the life saving scheme.

Four teachers and a group year nine and ten pupils have been on the Heartstart training course and are passing on their newly acquired expertise to other pupils, friends and family.

Ben Bufford, the school's head of citizenship, said: “The pupils have been very enthusiastic. It was so popular that we even had to turn away pupils, which was quite up setting really.

“Heartstart is very important because anyone could have a heart attack and need help. Who knows? I may need some pupils to save my life some day.”

As well as the free training courses, Heartstart has helped 20 schools get defibrillators and the British Heart Foundation is involved in the project, which wants all of Norfolk's schools to sign up.

Mrs Reynolds, who is based at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust's Hellesdon depot, said: “In a way Heartstart is bit like education in reverse as pupils who take part go away and tell their friend and families what to do in the event of a heart attack.

“They are the life savers of the future and it is really quite simple to teach them basic life saving skills.”

Any school which wants to get involved in Heartstart can contact Mrs Reynolds on 07796 031299 or e-mail Jeanne.reynolds@btinternet.co.uk Community groups can also take part it the Heartstart.

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