Basic life support education in secondary schools: a cross-sectional survey in London, UK

BMJ Open. 2017 Jan 6;7(1):e011436. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011436.


Objectives: Basic life support (BLS) training in schools is associated with improved outcomes from cardiac arrest. International consensus statements have recommended universal BLS training for school-aged children. The current practice of BLS training in London schools is unknown. The aim of this study was to assess current practices of BLS training in London secondary schools.

Setting, population and outcomes: A prospective audit of BLS training in London secondary schools was conducted. Schools were contacted by email, and a subsequent telephone interview was conducted with staff familiar with local training practices. Response data were anonymised and captured electronically. Universal training was defined as any programme which delivers BLS training to all students in the school. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise the results.

Results: A total of 65 schools completed the survey covering an estimated student population of 65 396 across 19 of 32 London boroughs. There were 5 (8%) schools that provide universal training programmes for students and an additional 31 (48%) offering training as part of an extracurricular programme or chosen module. An automated external defibrillator (AED) was available in 18 (28%) schools, unavailable in 40 (61%) and 7 (11%) reported their AED provision as unknown. The most common reasons for not having a universal BLS training programme are the requirement for additional class time (28%) and that funding is unavailable for such a programme (28%). There were 5 students who died from sudden cardiac arrest over the period of the past 10 years.

Conclusions: BLS training rates in London secondary schools are low, and the majority of schools do not have an AED available in case of emergency. These data highlight an opportunity to improve BLS training and AEDs provision. Future studies should assess programmes which are cost-effective and do not require significant amounts of additional class time.

Keywords: automatic external defibrillator; cardiac arrest; cardiopulmonary resuscitation; education.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / education*
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / standards
  • Child
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Defibrillators
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • London
  • Medical Audit
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • School Health Services / economics
  • School Health Services / standards*
  • Schools / economics
  • Schools / standards