Hundreds of Huddersfield youngsters were taught life-saving skills – in a single day.
And rugby union star Andy Forsyth, who grew up in Clayton West, joined pupils at King James’ School in Almondbury for the initiative, European Restart A Heart Day.
Schools and colleges across the town were among 88 educational centres throughout Yorkshire to take part.
Staff from Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) visited the schools and colleges to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to more than 20,000 children in the biggest event of its kind ever seen.
More than 400 volunteers, including YAS staff, community first responders and St John Ambulance helpers were among those taking part.
More than 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrests away from hospital in the UK every year. If a bystander starts CPR immediately before the arrival of the ambulance, the patient’s chances of survival double.
Yet a survey by the British Heart Foundation and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust shows that just 36% of people in Yorkshire and the Humber would be confident performing immediate CPR if someone collapsed in front of them.
Performing immediate CPR can in some cases double a person’s chance of survival but with less than half (49%) of people in Yorkshire and the Humber trained in CPR, there is a shortage of skills and awareness that is putting lives at risk.
Restart A Heart Day – sponsored by the YAS Charitable Fund and linking up with the Resuscitation Council and British Heart Foundation – aims to equip thousands of children with the skills they need to save a life.
Andy, who plays centre for Yorkshire Carnegie, said: “I have heard about the many cases where people’s lives have been saved thanks to a bystander knowing CPR so I know how important it is that we all learn this skill.”
Also taking part were Netherhall Learning Campus and Ethos College at Rawthorpe, Greenhead College, Shelley College, All Saints’ College, Kirkburton Middle School, Scissett Middle School, Edgerton College and Spen Valley High School.
Gary Johnson, head teacher at Kirkburton Middle School, said the school trained 167 year 8 pupils in a single morning.
“We were keen to get involved as it fits in with our personal development programme for our Year 8 pupils,” he said. “We try and develop in our children a wide range of personal skills such as leadership, team working, using their own initiative and making key decisions, being able to assess risk and being able to act in an emergency.
“Our children are now equipped to help save lives and make a difference!”
YAS has set a target of teaching CPR to one million people over the next five years.