A Heart charity has called on the city council to step up and show a commitment to providing vital Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.
Every high school in Perth and Kinross will now offer pupils training in cardiopulmary resuscitation by next year, Clackmannanshire Council has also said CPR training could be introduced to all the region’s secondary schools.
Aberdeen City Council are also on board following Glasgow City Council’s lead when it became the first UK city to pledge to make the first aid lessons mandatory in all its secondary schools.
But British Heart Foundation’s David McColgan said despite approaching Edinburgh council, no progress had been made for a similar pledge in the Capital.
He said: “Glasgow, Perth and Kinross, Clackmannshire and Aberdeen have all committed to training pupils in lifesaving CPR – where is Edinburgh’s commitment?
“Not everyone has a cardiac arrest next to a defib but everyone can be a lifesaver by performing CPR.”
Mr McColgan said although creating access points for defibrillators in the public is positive, “80 per cent of cardiac arrests happen in the home”.
He added: “The challenge of defibs is they are very visible but the reality is every single person is carrying the equipment they have in their hands and if they get a little bit of training in school then young people will be four times more likely to get involved in a situation where a person needs CPR and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Across the rest of the UK one in ten people survive after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Shockingly, in Scotland the figure drops to just 1 in 20.
Cardiac arrests are also more common in areas of multiple deprivation yet those who live in those areas are least likely to be trained in CPR.
BHF is trying to level the playing field and said in Edinburgh, where there is such significant variation between more affluent areas and poorer areas, it is vital that all schools and all children have access to the same type of CPR training.
“One of the challenges is that with the current approach to CPR in schools being to arrange it independently, then there’s not an equality of training,” Mr McColgan said.
“Edinburgh has some deprived areas and very affluent areas and to tackle that disparity in survival would be amazing and the way to do it is through children at school. This approach to local authorities committing to create a method to ensure all pupils are trained in CPR by the time they leave school will allow us to achieve that end goal.”
A person’s chances of survival after a cardiac arrest drop by ten per cent with every minute that passes if CPR is not performed on them.
Mr McColgan explained that saying Edinburgh council will provide mandatory CPR to all high school pupils does not mean the council has to co-ordinate all the training programmes but a commitment of political statement would be amazing.
“We are not mandating on which school does what, or how it should be done.
“Every authority and school will have different methods.
“We want Edinburgh council to say it is committed to delivering CPR training to every child and it will work out the best way to do it and will implement it at a suitable time in the future.”
The UK government recently announced that it is changing the law to embed CPR training in the school curriculum. The Scottish Government has so far ruled out a similar policy change north of the border but has encouraged councils to get behind BHF’s programme.
In Denmark, where schools have compulsory CPR training, one in four people survive cardiac arrest.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs, said: “It is my view that CPR training should be made available to any school that wants to teach it and that schools should be encouraged to do so.
“CPR training has been shown to really work in saving the lives of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, which Scotland has a poor track record for.
“I warmly welcome the BHF’s pledge of providing training kits to every school in Scotland and this reflects their belief in the effectiveness of CPR training.
“As a Lothian MSP I strongly support the BHFs call for CPR training to be made available to schools in Edinburgh, giving pupils across Edinburgh the knowledge that could potentially save a life.”
Of the 23 local authority high schools, seven schools are currently running BHF’s Call, Push, Rescue programme and of the remaining 16 schools, ten have training kits from previous BHF programme HeartStart and would need to be reaffiliated.
The six remaining schools qualify for free £1300 training kits from BHF, which would take CPR training provision to 100 per cent in Edinburgh.
An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman responded: “Health and wellbeing is a core part of Curriculum for Excellence and whilst many of our schools have already undertaken varying training courses and projects we would be interested in considering a mandatory course like this for our schools.”