It has been shown that starting rescue efforts for cardiac arrest victims while waiting for the ambulance to arrive increases survival. However, in Singapore, the bystander Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) rate is at about 20%, which is considered to be extremely low.

This means that 80% of individuals who collapse are not given any kind of life-saving first aid until the ambulance arrives. Therefore, in order to train bystanders on how to respond to medical emergencies, healthcare professionals may consider the following tips.

1. Organise workshops for students to educate them on CPR

Healthcare providers can play a part in training young people on CPR. In the country, 70% of cardiac arrests happen at home and children who go to school are usually the ones who are present with the patients. This makes it crucial that they are properly trained on how to deal with cardiac arrest situations since young. Healthcare providers can do so by organising workshops for students. They should include how to detect when a patient is suffering from cardiac arrest together, how to perform CPR correctly, together with how to make full use of the bystanders available.

The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Unit for Pre-hospital Emergency Care (UPEC) started a training programme called the Dispatcher-Assisted first Responder (DARE). Participants are taught how to help save the lives of cardiac arrest patients in six steps. Due to its simple techniques, it is simple to learn and to remember, even for young children.

Since 2014, there have been about 36 000 participants who have been trained using this programme. To increase participation, UPEC organised a symposium on 21 September 2016 for students and educators. This was held at the St John Singapore HQ. One of the highlights of the symposium was the sharing by Japanese students and teachers on Japan’s CPR education in schools. The sharing was based on their experience. After the training, participants were encouraged to download a mobile app called “myResponder” so that they could be alerted by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) when there is a distress call for cases of cardiac arrest.

2. Healthcare providers can volunteer in local emergency preparedness programmes

In Singapore, the People’s Association (PA) Emergency Preparedness (EP) organises Community Engagement Programmes (CE) Programmes which aim to help the community stay calm and maintain their composure during emergencies, as well as to be resilient. Healthcare providers may consider volunteering to help out in training others on their knowledge and experience on CPR and cardiac arrest cases as well as first aid.

It is important that healthcare providers volunteer in such programmes, as they can ensure that participants are taught the correct information. In addition, the American Heart Association (AHA) updates the recommended CPR guidelines periodically; hence healthcare providers who are likely to be up-to-date with current guidelines can ensure that trainers of these programmes do not teach participants using outdated information.

For every minute that bystanders delay in doing life-saving first aid such as CPR or using an AED, the chances of survival for cardiac arrest victims fall by around 7% to 10%. Healthcare providers can play their part by training the public on the necessary skills needed to respond to such emergencies.

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