By: Dr. Fairus Fariza Zainudin & Dr. Nor Fadila Kasim (FSSK)

On the crisp morning of September 20, 2023, the corridors of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Khir Johari reverberated with a sense of purpose and determination. This day marked a significant milestone in the field of health education as the school hosted a transformative event: “Teaching Hands-Only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (HOCPR) at Secondary School – Series 1.” Funded under the Knowledge Transfer Project Grant by the Research Management and Innovation Centre of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) with a grant of RM7,000, this program exemplified the power of collaboration and community-driven initiatives. This ambitious project was not limited to a single school. It encompassed three educational centers within the Perak state, with Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Khir Johari actively participating. The involvement of these schools ensured that the benefits of HOCPR education would spread far and wide.

The HOCPR program was conceived with three overarching objectives: (1) Collaboration for Lifesaving Education: This project represented a remarkable collaboration between Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in Tanjong Malim, the Malaysia Red Crescent Society National Headquarters, and three secondary schools. It aimed to synergize the strengths and resources of these institutions to create a life-changing educational experience. (2) Empowering the Community: At its core, this program sought to educate and train community members in delivering effective HOCPR. By equipping individuals with lifesaving skills, it aimed to empower them to become the first line of defense in the event of an Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA), (3)  Increasing Awareness and Willingness: The third objective was to raise awareness and instill a willingness to provide HOCPR to OHCA victims. Many hesitate to act in emergency situations due to fear or lack of knowledge. This program aimed to break down those barriers and create a community of confident lifesavers.

The Hands-Only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (HOCPR) program, developed by the American Heart Association (AHA), was at the heart of this initiative. It offered an effective strategy for teaching high-school-age children the steps of HOCPR. The program’s teaching strategy revolved around two key steps to save a life: (1) Recognition of Cardiac Arrest: In this step, participants were trained to immediately call the emergency number 999 upon recognizing a cardiac arrest situation. Time is of the essence in such cases, and a swift response can be a lifesaver. (2) Effective Chest Compressions: The second step involved performing chest compressions at a rate of at least 100 to 120 compressions per minute, with a depth of 5cm to 6cm for adult victims. The mantra here was simple but vital: “Push hard and push fast.” One innovative aspect of the program was the use of a Hand-Only CPR Pillow, which made the learning process of mass education is engaging and practical. A total of 100 students, spanning from Form 1 to Form 4, participated in the program, with 76 of them being female students and 24 male students.

Madam Arne Suzila Nasam assign as the Co-curriculum Senior Assistant Teacher and school representative, shared her insights on the program. She described it as a specialized First Aid initiative, particularly focusing on HOCPR. According to her, this program provided students with valuable experiences, essential skills, and in-depth knowledge, thanks to the expertise lent by UPSI and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (PBSMM). Madam Arne emphasized that the program not only offered a platform for acquiring skills and knowledge but also served as a lifelong learning opportunity. Students were exposed to real-world scenarios, preparing them to handle unexpected emergencies with confidence. Additionally, the program aligned with various curricular subjects, including Physical Education and Health (PJPK) for Form 4, Science for Form 4, and Sports Science. This cross-curricular approach enriched the overall learning experience, enhancing students’ abilities and readiness to respond to crises. She expressed her hope that such programs would continue and expand to encompass more schools in the Muallim District of Perak and beyond.

In addition, from En. Mior Mohd Shahriman Mior Shahidin acted as the Trainer on the day also as the Manager of Training at the MRC Institute, emphasized the critical importance of equipping school-age children with life-saving skills like HOCPR. He highlighted that the first few minutes following a cardiac arrest are the most crucial, often determining the victim’s survival. Hands-only bystander CPR significantly increases the chances of survival in cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. He stressed that the ability to perform HOCPR could bridge the gap between the moment of cardiac arrest and the arrival of medical professionals. Those initial moments, referred to as clinical death, are when immediate action can make all the difference. En. Mior’s insights underscored the urgency and relevance of HOCPR education in our communities.

Norasha Ramlan, a student at SMK Khir Johari, shared her thoughts on the program. She expressed her enjoyment of both the theoretical and practical aspects of HOCPR training. For Norasha and her peers, the program was a valuable opportunity to prepare for emergencies, especially in the case of unconscious victims. She mentioned that the program provided clarity on the necessary steps to take in such unexpected and challenging situations.

A Hope for a Lifesaving Legacy

As the program concluded at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Khir Johari, the hope was that it had empowered a new generation of lifesavers. The event aimed to equip individuals with the skills and confidence needed to respond effectively to OHCA incidents. It also sought to increase the number of bystanders trained in HOCPR in the Muallim District, ultimately contributing to a safer and more prepared community.

In the grand scheme of things, the HOCPR program at SMK Khir Johari was a testament to the impact that collaborative efforts and education can have on saving lives. The program, initiated under the Knowledge Transfer Project Grant, was a shining example of how institutions, communities, and students can work together to create a safer and more resilient society. As the echoes of the event lingered in the school’s hallways, it was evident that the knowledge gained and the skills honed on that day would remain with the participants, serving as a legacy of empowerment and lifesaving capability.

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