Rona Dougall: Don’t be afraid of getting stuck in with CPR as you can’t make things worse… You can only save a life

WOULD you be able to save a life if you had to? Until a few days ago, I would have had to say no. Not now.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation – CPR – can more than double the chances of survival following a cardiac arrest.

And this week a campaign was launched to raise awareness of this simple skill that can save a life.

The Scottish Government has created a film showing TV presenter Carol Smillie carrying out CPR soundtracked by the Proclaimers’ hit I’m Gonna Be (500 miles).

It’s part of a five-year plan to teach 500,000 Scots the technique and hopefully save a thousand lives. I was astonished to learn that 200,000 people in Scotland are already trained to carry out this medical procedure. But after I met Annemarie Pattison from St Andrews First Aid that figure made sense.

She’s been a volunteer then full time trainer for 32 years and is evangelical about spreading the word. She has trained thousands of people across the country.

Annemarie swept into the Scotland Tonight studio with her dummy (which I later discovered was called Anne) and a sweet little baby version – a woman on a mission.

We had five minutes in the programme to chat about the story and for her to give a practical demonstration using the long-suffering Anne.

Rona Dougall (Graeme Hunter Pictures / STV)

The first aider explained that there is no need to be frightened about getting stuck in to help someone suffering from cardiac arrest. You can’t make the situation worse for them. Unless you step in, they’re going to die.

Emboldened, I had a shot myself after we came off air. It really is as simple as firmly pressing up and down on the middle of a person’s chest (singing 500 miles is optional although if you have a voice like mine maybe just keep quiet).

It’s hard work, though, and that’s why loads of us need to be able to do it so there are plenty of people trained, willing and ready to take over when you tire. It could be 10 minutes before an ambulance arrives.

And you never know when you might be required to step up to the plate.

Annemarie got quite emotional when she told me that just that morning she’d received a grateful email from a young couple who’d recently attended one of her training courses.

A few days later their eight-month old son had stopped breathing. The dad did CPR and saved his life. The wee boy is now stable in hospital.

Annemarie and all the other volunteers and trainers in Scotland are carrying out an invaluable public service. I’m prepared now, are you?

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