More than 300 shoppers recently participated in the first cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training event in the Gulf held at Bahrain City Centre.
As part of its Community Engagement Programme the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) Bahrain, in collaboration with American Heart Association (AHA), Bahrain City Centre (BCC), BDF Hospital and Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Sulman Al Khalifa Cardiac Centre, taught visitors a series of potentially life-saving techniques.
CPR consists of giving cycles of cardiac compressions and breaths. This is designed to replace the normal processes in the heart and lungs, and possibly encourage their return to activity.
The 45-minute sessions started on the hour, every hour from 10am to 10pm. They were divided into three sections; adult hands only CPR, traditional child CPR, including breaths and compression, and information on how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED), as well as how to help a choking adult.
Each participant received an AHA Family & Friends CPR kit which included an inflatable mannequin and a DVD to take home, fully sponsored by RCSI Bahrain, which cost $10,000 for 300 kits.
Volunteers were asked to kneel, blow up the mannequin in the kit 'like a beachball' and prepare for the session as qualified instructors stood by every row of three participants to keep an eye on them, answer any questions, as well as to encourage them to keep going.
Once they settled in, Dr Mary Tareif, one of the organisers, led the groups through the sessions as they followed the instructions relayed on big screens.
Organiser Orla Merrigan, a nursing lecturer at RCSI Bahrain, said: "This has never been done in the Gulf, let alone Bahrain. We're trying to train as many people as possible so that they can assist in an incident before an ambulance gets to the patient. This is an essential skill to know, especially if a crew is held up in traffic."
Julie Sprakel, head of the Community Engagement Programme at RCSI, said: "Trainers from different hospitals around the country have given up their time as volunteers and conducted a massive research project with 300 people from a very good demographic of Bahraini nationals. This also has never been done and is very good news for Bahrain."
A survey was given to participants at the end of each session, which will be used as part of the research project as well, to allow organisers to get in touch and ask if they have shared what they had learned with friends and family.
Ghanem Mohammed, 32, from A'ali, explained that although he is deaf, the video, visuals and help from volunteers allowed him to become part of the session. He said: "I may be deaf but everything presented was so clear that, although I came into the event with very little information about CPR, I now feel qualified enough to save a life.
"In 2000, my family was swimming and my mother collapsed from the sun while she was in the sea and I stood there and didn't know what to do. Now if something like this happens, I will no longer be afraid."
At the back of the vicinity a panel of experts gave out leaflets, answered questions and gave an opportunity to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre on 'Choking Charlie' or check their blood pressure. Many of the participants were thrilled to see Bahrain taking part in this training skill initiative.
Sarah Fribbens, 49, from Sr said: "Very good, very impressed, very useful! I haven't been to an event like this in Bahrain before. I didn't really know much about CPR before and now I realise how hard it actually is."
Rommel Gulmatico, 39, from Hoora said: "This is one of the most useful and helpful events I have been to in Bahrain. This is the first time I have tried CPR and I hope I don't have to use it again, but at least if I'm put in that situation I would know what to do."
According to the American Heart Association, 75 to 80 per cent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen at home. It means that being trained in CPR can make a substantial difference to the likelihood of a loved one surviving.
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