Practice makes perfect

The Generation Game

You may not remember the days of the “Generation Game” on television, when Bruce Forsyth would bring on an expert with an unusual skill.

The contestants would watch a demonstration of the person’s talent, not always terribly complex.potters wheel

It could be throwing a clay pot on a potter’s wheel, filling sausages, or learning a few dance steps.

Whatever the task they’d be asked to replicate it, after seeing it done once.

The fun then commenced, with the additional pressure of doing it in front of an audience.

Adrenaline rushes and panic sets in, laughter from the audience results in few of the contestants carrying out the task successfully.

If you compare this to learning basic life-saving skills, watching it done, is not enough.

Show a group something and ask them if they can repeat it? The majority will confidently say yes.

Testing beliefs

Stress test it, by getting them to actually do it, and more often than not, the answer is a definite no.

As a trainer I’ve noticed you can show learners things, but there really is no substitute for doing it.

For instance, putting someone in the recovery position, they invariably forget some of the steps.

However, given the opportunity to practice it, they become more confident and soon competent.

Learning from a screen

Increasingly we use video as a teaching resource and it has its place as a teaching aid.

But it cannot provide the feel of how hard and deep you must push on the chest to achieve effective CPR compression.

Feeling the difference between using two hands to achieve compression on an adult compared to just two fingers on an infant.Resuscitation Anne

Being able to watch the chest rise when you give rescue breaths, gives a great indication that you’d do it right in a real emergency.

If you’re in a restaurant and someone chokes, knowing where and how hard to slap them on the back and the sort of force it takes to give an abdominal thrust.

You must remember, like the generation game, your adrenaline will kick in. Not because you’re being watched by millions of people, wanting you to make a fool of yourself.

Because you will be dealing with a real life and death emergency.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice is the answer and the more often the better.

Although your certificate last 3 years, we recommend refreshing your skills at least once a year.

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Dying for a holiday?

Christmas Eve

Why is 10pm on Christmas Eve a dangerous time for Swedes.

Swedish research led by Dr David Erlinge, from the Department of Cardiology, Clinical Sciences, at the Lund University  looked at the frequency of heart attacks at holiday times.

They have concluded that, the average daily number of heart attacks increases from 50 to 69 a on Christmas Eve massive 37% increase. Most of these occur around 10pm, following a day of too much food and excessive drinking

You may ask why Christmas Eve? The simple answer, in Swedish culture they celebrate on the 24th of December, not Christmas Day as we do in the UK.Christmas lights

Christmas Day

Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that, 10pm on Christmas Day in the UK, may be the most likely time for Brits to be having heart attacks, too.

Seemingly it doesn’t get much better on Boxing Day either, the increase remains high at 22%.

But the big surprise was New Years Eve, with no appreciable increase, and heart attack symptoms probably masked by alcohol.Paper chains

New Year

However, New Year’s Day the heart attacks again rose by 20%. Put down to after effects of too much alcohol and food, sleep deprivation and cold weather.

Dr. Erlinge said, “The peak is very pronounced, exactly on Christmas Eve and the following two days, so, I think it is something specific about the way we celebrate these holidays.

“We do not know for sure, but emotional distress with acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief, and stress increases the risk of a heart attack. Excessive food intake, alcohol, long distance travelling may also increase the risk.

“Interestingly, the pattern of increased risk in the morning which dominates the rest of the year was reversed at Christmas. With an increased risk in the evening, indicating that the stress and eating during the day triggered the heart attacks.

“People could avoid unnecessary stress, take care of elderly relatives with risk of heart problems and avoid excessive eating and drinking.”


The researchers believe that the emotional pressure of Christmas. Stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, grief, family disputes, financial worries and memories of lost relatives and friends, all contribute.

Of course, environmental issues such as the “flu” season will pay a part. Over 65s being most liable to succumb, especially if they have heart problems.

“People need to be aware of the increased cardiovascular risk associated with emotional distress and excessive food intake that may occur during large holidays. We also need to care more about our elderly and sicker friends and relatives,” added Dr Erlinge.

Read about this research in the British Medical Journal

The Chain of Survival

The Chain of Survival.metal chain

Understanding the, “chain of survival”, can make the difference between life and death.

Firstly, nobody goes into work or school, with the expectation of one of your colleagues suffering a major illness or having a serious accident.

Secondly, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is indiscriminate, it can affect any of us, even children and babies.

Sadly, it happens too often, and how you react, can make the difference to their chances of survival.

By learning the basic life support skills you will be in a much better position to help

Early Recognition

This is essential. If you suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, every minute that passes reduces your chance of survival by 10 percent.

Therefore, if they’re, unconscious and not breathing in a normal way, don’t hesitate, call 999 or 112 for an ambulance immediately.

In an ideal world, UK ambulance response times are about 8 minutes, but clinical pressures can probably increase that.

So, by failing to act immediately, their chance of survival will be seriously compromised, by the time they arrive.

Early Resuscitation

Start CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) immediately, it makes a critical difference.

By maintaining circulation and ventilation, the chances of significant brain damage are reduced.

And don’t worry about hurting them, a few cracked ribs in return for life, seems a reasonable exchange.

Early Defibrillation

Most importantly, early defibrillation is the third link of the chain.

Therefore, having a defibrillator close at hand, changes their survival chance, from 5 percent with CPR alone, to a convincing 75 percent.

Because people fear doing harm, or hurting the casualty by using an AED defibrillator, they fail to act.

The fact is you can’t hurt them, the technology prevents you shocking someone who doesn’t need it.

Therefore, you’ll give your casualty the best possible chance of a successful outcome by using it.

Early Hospitalisation

Finally, get them to professional medical care quickly. No matter how good the immediate care at the scene, you will need to get them to hospital, and the sooner the better.

By having an understanding of this chain of survival, you will be more confident to do something.

Resuscitation Council Chain of survival
Resuscitation Council Chain of survival

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