Derby Grammar School pupil, Jacob McCandless, is like many other students, having overcome the turbulent time over the lockdown period to gain his GCSEs, he is settling into Sixth Form. 

However, Jacob is far from your average pupil, he is a volunteer with St John Ambulance (previously having been awarded Regional Cadet of the Year for East Region earlier this year), and has dedicated any spare time and energy he has to the cause. But not willing to stop there, he has also dedicated his school time to them also. As part of his A Levels, for his EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) he has endeavoured to make his school, what he believes to be, the first in the country to have every teacher and pupil able, trained to provide CPR. So all pupils from Year 3 to Year 13 will have this training. His aim is to set up a framework which is then able to be shared with all schools across the country. He has liaised with staff members and arranged a schedule of training events throughout November. 

According to the British Heart Foundation, nearly a third of UK adults are not likely to perform CPR if they saw someone suffer a cardiac arrest, according to figures released in 2018 to mark Restart a Heart Day. Figures also showed that less than 1 in 10 people in Britain survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest, due to low bystander CPR rates. In countries with CPR taught in schools, as many as 1 in 4 survive. Heart and circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK, and there are more than 300,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year. 

Jacob explains, “Working with St John Ambulance has had a huge effect on me, and made me realise that a few simple techniques could save hundreds of lives. 

“It is incredibly important for basic First Aid and CPR to become a bigger part of the National Curriculum. It is a sad reality that many children may be faced with dealing with an emergency should a family member become sick. Empowering children to have a basic understanding of what they can do to help can be incredibly reassuring in moments of crisis. 

“It’s amazing seeing young children really loving the training, and I think I’ll enjoy teaching my teachers something for once too!”

To mark World Restart a Heart Day, Jacob will be teaching Derby Grammar School Head, Dr Ruth Norris, and Head of Primary, Mrs Lizzie Scholter, to do CPR which will be shared on social media to support the awareness campaign. He is so enthusiastic and excited to start this project, and has a real passion to make a difference. He has recently been accepted as a Royal Navy Reserve, and hopes to become a Doctor in the Royal Navy.

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