Stayin’ alive…and saving lives

Stayin’ alive…and saving lives

Year 12 St John Ambulance volunteer Jason Tao and a team of senior pupils demonstrated to other Elizabethans how they could save lives in a special lunchtime event open to all.

Around 40 boys came to the Main School Hall to learn CPR and recovery techniques for casualties in what is expected to be the first of a series of first-aid workshops.

Jason said: “One key takeaway was that you don’t have to be part of St John Ambulance or a paramedic to potentially give someone – a loved one, a close friend, or just someone on the street – a second chance at life.

“One of the most decisive moments for me setting up this workshop was coming across this shocking statistic that for every minute without receiving CPR, the survival rate of someone in cardiac arrest (i.e. their heart has stopped beating) falls by 10%.

“Equipped with the knowledge of what to do in these scenarios, those who attended would now no longer be passive bystanders, but active life-savers. That’s what makes workshops like this quite special: what greater power than to save lives!”

The first part of the workshop focused on how and when to do CPR (answer: when a casualty is unresponsive and not breathing). The second part covered how and when to put someone in the recovery position (when the casualty is unresponsive, but breathing).

Former footballer Vinnie Jones famously fronted a public information campaign some years ago championing the use of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees in performing CPR, because its tempo is in the correct 100-120 beats per minute range. This track is still useful, Jason said. He included it on a CPR playlist during the workshop, although he spared the attendees Baby Shark, which is also recommended because of its tempo. “I do think it was for the best that this was not played out loud in the hall!” he said.

He reflected on the benefits of being a St John Ambulance volunteer. “I joined at the start of 2021 just after the lockdown had ended, and I think like many others coming out of lockdown, I needed a way to get some form of human contact back into my life. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a local St John Unit, and I’ve had absolutely no regrets ever since!

“Volunteering for St John Ambulance is so rewarding and satisfying – when you finally use those first-aid skills to treat actual patients at events, that sense of accomplishment from a job well done (and of course from having a grateful patient!) is definitely one of the best parts of the experience.

“Through volunteering and gaining first-aid skills, I’ve found that other skills like communication and teamwork have developed alongside, as you put yourself ‘out there’ at more and more events and work alongside other St John volunteers.” These events have included sports fixtures at the Emirates Stadium, Lord’s and London Stadium, among other venues.

Jason thanked staff members Bryn Evans and Rhys Peto for the work they did behind the scenes to make the workshop possible, including sorting out the venue, getting access to mannequins and making it all run smoothly on the day. Dr Evans is a Physics teacher and QE Flourish tutor, while Mr Peto, from the Facilities team, has first-aid training experience through his work with the Combined Cadet Force.

He also thanked fellow St John members who helped out at the workshop:  Year 12 pupils Pranav Haller, Joshua John, Sai Suhas Parsaboina, Reshwanth Kanukollu, Girish Adapa, Yathoosan Suthash, Adi Kaneshanathan, and Krutarth Behera, of Year 11.

“We all thoroughly enjoyed teaching these skills to the participants, who all came with an eagerness to learn and were really engaged, picking things up much faster than we had expected! We introduced an element of competition (something that we know students here never shy away from) looking at who had the best technique after three minutes of CPR – something they all really enjoyed, although a few were left slightly breathless!

“We even had a few pupils who stayed behind after the workshop to ask how they could join and start volunteering for St John Ambulance.

“Following the success of this workshop, we certainly won’t be stopping at one, with future workshops covering a range of life-saving skills, like how to use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). We also hope to potentially add an exciting element of fundraising to these first-aid events.”