An Australian-first pilot program that teaches Year 7 Victorian students how to save lives will now be expanded to students in Years 8 to 10.

The Kids Save Lives program aims to improve cardiac arrest survival rates by teaching students to give life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Last year, there were more cardiac arrests in the state than ever before, with paramedics treating 7361 patients – an increase of six per cent.

While Victoria has one of the best cardiac arrest survival rates in the world, every day about 20 Victorians suffer a cardiac arrest.

With nearly 80 per cent of cardiac arrests occurring at home, Ambulance Victoria Executive Director of Operational Communications Danielle North said it is important that both adults and young people know CPR and how to use an AED.

“It’s essential for everyone to be equipped with these life-saving skills,” Ms North said.

“Students will not only be able to share their knowledge with friends and family but also with their wider community.”

CPR training in schools is endorsed by the World Health Organisation, which recommends the optimal age to learn is from 12-years-old.

The program is designed to be delivered by Victorian teachers to assist students in recognising when someone is in cardiac arrest and to learn the three simple steps of Call (Call Triple Zero – 000), Push (Perform CPR) and Shock (use an AED).

The program is conducted in partnership with the Heart Foundation, Monash University, Australian Resuscitation Council, Department of Education and Training and Heart of the Nation (established by original Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page, who survived a cardiac arrest in January 2020).

Heart Foundation Victorian General Manager Chris Enright said Heart Foundation-funded research shows only half of Australian adults are trained in CPR but that those trained are more willing to help others in emergency situations.

“Educating children is a successful way to reach the entire population as children can be encouraged to teach others,” Ms Enright said.

“We know that CPR training programs in schools that have run overseas in Sweden, France, Denmark, Norway and the UK have equipped participants with life-saving knowledge; these countries now have some of the highest bystander CPR and survival rates internationally.

“Working alongside our project partners, and with the support received from The Lionel and Yvonne Spencer Trust and the Danks Trust, we are confident students will learn the skills that could save the life of someone in their community.”

Minister for Ambulance Services Mary-Anne Thomas said the expansion of the Kids Save Lives program coincides with AV’s annual Shocktober campaign, which is also aimed at improving cardiac arrest survival rates.

“Shocktober is all about giving more Victorians who suffer a cardiac arrest a greater chance of returning to their loved ones,” Ms Thomas said.

“You don’t have to be a paramedic to save a life – you just need to be able to perform CPR and know how to use an AED.”

For more information about Shocktober and how to become a GoodSAM responder, visit ambulance.vic.gov.au/shocktober

Victorian teachers who are interested in learning more about the Kids Save Lives program can email community.engagement@ambulance.vic.gov.au