Basic life support (BLS) is a type of care provided to people experiencing emergencies such as cardiac arrest, respiratory distress, or an obstructed airway.
The support includes initial assessment, airway maintenance, breathing (rescue breathing; mouth-to-mouth ventilation) and chest compression, known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The American Red Cross Society recommends that people adopt knowledge and abilities in CPR, use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and the relief of airway blockages in patients of all ages to save lives, as prompt recognition of cardiac arrest, activation of the emergency medical services (EMS) system, early cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and defibrillation can mean the difference between life and death.
The introduction of CPR training in educational institutions has been advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO) where it can lead to higher survival rates, as well as better productivity of society.
At the Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Saadatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences (PAPRSBIHS), Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), a group of third year medical students under the team name ‘OnTheScene’ implemented a community-oriented educational programme to provide university students and staff with BLS and first aid training, supported by staff of the Basic Life Support and First Aid Training Centre at PAPRSBIHS.
Their programme involved weekly lectures, seminars, live demonstrations and practical hands-on sessions using individual mannequins for participants to practise and show their competency in providing CPR in emergency situations, as well as management of acute bleeding using pressure bandaging and fractures by splinting.
In their programme, the students were taught a step-by-step procedure on how to perform BLS and first aid, including scenarios pertaining to common emergency scenarios, which was conducted at the Simulation Centre of PAPRSBIHS using BLS and first aid equipment provided by American Heart Association (AHA) certified instructors.
A pocket book detailing steps in performing CPR, designed by the students, based on AHA Basic Life Support and Heartsaver resources, was also given to participants.
Team leader for OnTheScene Izzatul Syakirah expressed her satisfaction in conducting the project: “Not only are we educating our very own university students and staff in how to perform life-saving skills, but my team members and myself feel very confident and competent in delivering this training as how the certified instructors would do it, thanks to the help of Cikgu Asnah and Cikgu Rosita, who had given us the opportunity and supervision to be in-house trainers ourselves.”
She added, “We completed our participant certification in the BLS and first aid prior to conducting the programme, and it further boosted our skills in BLS and first aid, where we hope to become certified trainers in the future.”
To enhance the engagement and retention of knowledge of participants, OnTheScene not only ensured participants performed the correct techniques through observation, feedback and improvement but also included quizzes and games on the topics learnt during the programme.
Ryan Lim, who was in charge of the quizzes, said, “Through the quizzes, we were hoping to dispel some myths regarding CPR and first aid as relying on what you’ve heard or seen on TV might cause more harm than good!”
During the feedback session, a participant who is a student from Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education, said she learnt so much from the sessions.
“Certainly, it was intellectually stimulating and I had so much fun! Well done to all team members of OnTheScene, they worked very hard to make this memorable for all participants by ensuring they can really take upon the skills of BLS and first aid.”
Another participant said he could not be more thankful for the session, particularly for the interactive sessions, exclaiming how much fun it was and that he had enjoyed every minute of it.
The community project on BLS and first aid ran by OnTheScene is part of the Bachelor of Health Sciences Medicine Special Study module where students conduct a community-oriented project consisting of learning activities using the community extensively as a learning environment, to ensure sectors of the public are actively engaged throughout the educational experience in important health matters.
It does not only equip the students and staff with having adequate knowledge and awareness, but also cultivate a sense of security during emergencies while increasing their confidence in performing BLS and first aid.