3,000 Trained – Penrice Celebrate Mini Medics Milestone

The school community at Penrice Academy has felt a great sense of pride this week after reaching a total of 3,000 students trained in basic first aid.

The programme, called Mini Medics, was started by the school in 2017 and is a first aid course designed for children without any confusing terminology, covering CPR, the use of defibrillators, choking (Heimlich Maneuver), asthma, handling wounds and so much more.

In early 2017, Mrs Donna McGrath, Penrice Academy’s First Aid Instructor (feature image), trained every student in Years 7 – 10 (approximately 1,200 students). From there on in, she trained every Year 7 cohort when they joined the school, meaning that 3,000 pupils have now been trained in First Aid.

Mrs McGrath
First Aid Instructor at Penrice Academy

“We have just reached the 3,000 mark! This is massive for the students, massive for Penrice Academy, and incredible to think that there are 3,000 young people in and around the St Austell area who know how to perform CPR, how to use a defibrillator, as well as so many more first aid skills.”

Today is a great moment for the students to celebrate. They are all so enthusiastic during the training sessions and they feel so empowered knowing what to do in emergency situations.”

In Norway, CPR has been an essential part of the curriculum since 1961 and the average survival rate for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is 25%. In the UK however, this figure stands at less than 10%.

The UK government recently changed legislation ensuring that the teaching of CPR became a compulsory part of the curriculum from 2020 onwards.

Mini Medics is specifically geared towards children using illustrations, wording and technology to keep young students engaged, focused and having fun whilst learning essential life skills.

Billie-Jo, a Year 7 student at Penrice, explained:

“Mrs McGrath makes things really easy to understand. One of the things we learnt is how to do CPR to the beat of the song ‘Staying Alive’ [Bee Gees] as this is the correct speed. We also learnt that if you’re doing CPR it is perfectly okay to break the patient’s rib – we were told that it’s actually quite common for this to happen. The rib can grow back, the most important thing is keeping the person alive”

The Mini Medics programme has already made a positive impact on the wider local community.

Mrs McGrath explains:

“A few years ago, a mum wrote a letter to thank us for the Mini Medics training. It was the very next day after her child had received the training that they found member of the public collapsed in the street. The student was able to put them in the recovery position whilst they called 999.”

The programme also had a life-saving effect directly within Penrice when Finlay, a Year 7 student at the time, collapsed in December 2021. Classmates had received Mini Medics training just a few months before, understood the severity of the situation and raised the alarm immediately. This led to the quick delivery of CPR by Mrs McGrath and use of the school’s defibrillator. The rapid alert from students meant that Mrs McGrath was on the scene within 60 seconds and this really helped to save Finlay’s life. Finlay made a full recovery.

Finlay on BBC Spotlight (January 2022)

The incident at Penrice in December 2021 further fuelled national campaigns for defibrillators to be placed in all schools (something that was not compulsory at the time). Penrice had previously purchased its own defibrillator (the one that saved Finlay’s life) back in 2017 for approximately £2,000 out of the school budget.

After hearing of the incident, Henry Orchard and Sons generously donated £10,000 to Penrice’s multi-academy trust (CELT) in early 2022 to ensure more local schools could purchase defibrillators.

Henry Orchard and Sons donate £10,000 to fund the purchase of defibrillators in local schools

Mr Orchard presents cheque for £10,000 to fund defibrillators in local schools (early 2022).

More recently, on 20 January 2023, the government announced that all schools across the country will be provided with defibrillators for free before the end of the year.

In a post on social media, Nuco Training, the company who provide the training resources for Mini Medics, commented:

“We are absolutely thrilled to share Penrice Academy’s milestone of having trained 3,000 Mini Medics since 2017. We are incredibly proud to see this milestone reached. It fills us with immense joy to see our young people stepping forward to learn essential life-saving skills.

Their commitment and dedication have surpassed our expectations. This isn’t merely a number – it represents thousands of individuals who now have the power to save lives, the power that they carry with them every day.

We extend our warmest congratulations to the final Year 7 group whose participation marked this special milestone! Each one of you has added an invaluable skill to your life toolbox. It’s not every day you get to say you’ve learned to save a life.

A special shout out to Mrs McGrath, the heart of this incredible programme at Penrice Academy. Your dedication to fostering a culture of safety and preparedness in our community is truly inspiring. You have not only taught first aid skills but also instilled a sense of responsibility in the students, which is invaluable.

Thank you, Penrice Academy, for your steadfast commitment to Mini Medics. Here’s to thousands more life-saving heroes in the making!”

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