The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) has launched its ‘Lifesaver Ambassador’ scheme to train student teachers in lifesaving support skills.
In partnership with the CCEA, Education Authority and universities, and in the lead up to ‘Restart a Heart Day’, the NIAS will bring in emergency life support - including CPR - into the teacher education curriculum.
As newly qualified teachers they will bring those skills into their new schools.
The Department of Education recently announced that all children in post-primary schools will receive CPR training.
Health Minister Robin Swann, said the initiative is a “huge step forward” in ensuring as many people as possible are training in life saving skills.
“These teachers will pass the skills onto their pupils, increasing the community of people who are trained and helping to improve survival rates of those suffering a cardiac arrest,” he added.
Adding her support to the scheme, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, stated CPR is a critical and potentially life-saving skill.
“The dual approach of equipping our new teachers with these skills and providing CPR training to pupils within the school curriculum will undoubtedly have a clear and measurable impact on survival rates,” she said. “It will, quite simply, save lives.”
The NIAS’ community resuscitation lead Stephanie Leckey, said recent research has revealed that only 17% of children who have not had CPR training, would be confident to perform CPR if someone collapsed or stopped breathing in front of them.
“If we are to improve survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests in Northern Ireland, that statistic must change,” continued Ms Leckey.
“The universities are partnering with us to include lifesaver ambassador training as part of their undergraduate and post-graduate teacher education curriculum.
“As such, they will, as newly qualified teachers, be equipped with skills necessary to deliver Community of Lifesavers Education Programme in schools. I am confident that this initiative will save lives.”
The initiative has the full support of Northern Ireland's four teacher training universities - Stranmillis University College, Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University and St Mary's University College.