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Cork student Amy is living proof of the importance of CPR

A student whose life was saved by CPR says she's living proof of the importance of the life-saving skill.

Amy O'Brien, a student at St Vincent's Secondary School in Cork, revealed her near-death experience as the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) presented her school with a special recognition award for training all of its staff and pupils in cardiopulmonary resuscitation as part of its CPR 4 Schools programme, supported by Bank of Ireland.

Laura Hickey, Irish Heart Foundation going through a demonsation with Emily Walsh and Jessica Hurley with at the St Vincent’s Secondary School Cork Picture Brendan Gleeson

Amy's dad performed CPR on her after she lost consciousness in a freak swimming pool accident while on holidays in Spain a few years ago. She was rushed to hospital and had to have her lungs drained. But doctors said if she hadn't received CPR in the early stages, she may not have made it.

St Vincent’s is the first school in Cork and just the fourth nationally to receive the IHF award, which recognises remarkable efforts in CPR promotion and training.

The programme aims to create a generation of life savers - post primary students around the country who are equipped and trained to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) in cardiac emergencies and to respond when someone is choking.

Performing CPR can double and in some cases triple the chance of survival for someone in cardiac arrest.

So far, 965 teachers in 363 secondary schools around the country have taken part in the training, reaching over 180,000 secondary school students.

Frances Dodd, a teacher at St Vincent’s, said: "The pupils have really enjoyed developing new lifesaving skills that can be used in every environment; at home, in school and in the community."

The IHF's Children and Young People Programme Manager, Laura Hickey, said they wanted to recognise the work the school has done to teach CPR in their community.

"Every day 13 people in Ireland die from a cardiac arrest and schools are an ideal setting to educate young people in CPR and reduce the incidences of death from cardiac arrest," she said.

CPR is a lifesaving skill that everyone can learn, and this programme is available to every post primary school in Ireland, equipping young people with the skills and confidence to perform CPR. St Vincent’s Secondary School has done tremendous work in creating awareness and taking the fear out of lifesaving.

For schools to take part in the training, two teachers must attend a two-hour workshop to equip them with the skills to teach CPR back at their schools.

They get access to the IHF's online portal which features training videos, lesson plans, student certificates, and access to free training manikins and in just 40 minutes, they can teach students to perform CPR, use an AED, and help someone who is choking.

The next CPR 4 Schools training day for teachers in Cork will take place in the Cork Education Support Centre on the Western Road in February.

Post primary school teachers interested in attending can find out more on www.irishheart.ie/cpr4schools.