Schoolboy leads by example – training is available for those wanting to save lives by administering first aid to cardiac arrest victims
Fifth grader Wongsatat “Nong Fa” Vicha aspires to be a doctor and save people’s lives when he grows up. In his childhood, the 11-year-old pupil of Varee Chiangmai International School is also determined to come to the rescue whenever opportunities arise.
So keen is he that he has joined his mother in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training at the Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai (Suan Dok) Hospital for two consecutive years.
“I want to help people,” the boy said as he flaunted his CPR-ability certificate from the training.
Wongsatat now hopes 5,000 other students at this school and their parents can also undergo the training so that they, too, can help revive others in need.
“If another 5,000 could do what I can, we would be able to help many people. So I talked with staff members at the school infirmary about this,” Wongsatat said.
CPR procedure, if administered quickly on cardiac arrest patients, could bump the survival rate from one per cent to 30 per cent.
“If I should see anyone unconscious, I would immediately offer my help,” Wongsatat said. Aware that relatives might hesitate to let a young boy like him help, Wongsatat said he had prepared a speech to ensure help is given as quickly as possible.
“‘Human life is important’ is what I will say. Then, I will show them my CPR-able card, which I carry in my wallet everywhere I go,” the thoughtful boy said.
Wongsatat has also checked where the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) devices are installed at his school and tells others about them.
“The AED must not be used on an unconscious person who is wet or lying on wet ground – we must dry or move him elsewhere first,” the boy said.
CPR is more effective if you press twice per second on the person’s chest until he regains consciousness, he said.
Wongsatat’s pharmacist mother Warunee Juasantikulchai recounted that she often saw ambulances speeding around when a local person fell unconscious.
“I have heard some patients didn’t get timely aid because onlookers just waited for the ambulance to arrive,” she said.
So when she heard that the Faculty of Medicine at Chiang Mai University (CMU) and its sister hospitals were organising CPR training for members of the public, she applied.
“The training organiser also agreed to enrol my son even though he was just nine years old at that time,” Warunee said
Both mother and son are now confident about performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and using their AED skills since both have already completed the training twice.
Project secretary and emergency medicine lecturer Dr Borwon Wittayachamnankul said the hospital started the project five years ago to provide two-hour training for members of the public interested in saving lives by providing first aid to patients before ambulances arrive.
“To date, we have already trained 400 medical students, 200 hospital staff and 500 public volunteers,” he said. “Our trained medical students are now ready to teach others about CPR, too”.
Acute cardiac arrest can occur without warning to those prone to heart disease. Almost 90 per cent happen outside hospitals so people can save lives if they call a hotline (1669) or intervene themselves, through either CPR or AED, he said.
Besides encouraging more and more people to attend the CPR training, the project also campaigns for people to take photo and check-in the locations of AED devices on social media to provide information for fast access to the nearest machine, said Borwon. “If you come across an unconscious person it would be ideal if you were able to perform CPR. You could then also ask passers-by to call the emergency hotline and look for the nearest AED device,” he said.
Borwon said the project would next month also start providing CPR training to teachers so they could pass the knowledge to others at schools and communities.
Interested teachers must submit applications and state the purpose of their interest in participating in the training.
Although teachers from any province can apply, successful applicants can only attend training in Chiang Mai. The Chiang Mai University’s Engineering Faculty is also helping out by producing low-cost AED devices for those training.
“We want to teach people to be brave and confident in helping help others to give patients a better shot at surviving,” Borwon said, referring to findings from a recent survey among 1,000 CMU freshmen that just 52 per cent people would help an unconscious person. He said the survey found 48 per cent were unsure about giving help due to the lack of confidence or knowledge.
The hospital’s training relies on financial support from the CPR Fund of the Suan Dok Hospital, which also aims at procuring and giving AED devices to communities for free.
Even if you cannot take part in training the Fund would be grateful for donations from those sympathetic to the cause.