Downham Market Lionesses Margaret Fox, June Mills and Wendy Leaver present a cheque to members of the NARS team at one of the open training sessions. Picture: Kevin Elfleet

A new exercise saw more than 100 people given potentially life-saving training.

Members of the Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS) in partnership with the Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT), held a three-day Bystander CPR event at Discover Downham in Downham Market.

Paul Strutt, communications and fundraising officer for NARS, said the pilot project went very well.

He estimated around 100 to 150 people had attended the training sessions held from last Friday to Sunday.

Mr Strutt added in the wake of the success, other similar sessions could now also be organised in other West Norfolk towns including King’s Lynn and Hunstanton.

The pilot project aimed to raise awareness that minutes matter for a person’s survival following a cardiac arrest. 

Prompt and correct action from bystanders can make all the difference.

“We find that less than 10 per cent of a cross-section of the public know how to do CPR and we want to help change that,” said Mr Strutt.

NARS chairman critical care paramedic Chris Neil said: “Too often we rush to a cardiac arrest, only to find that the patient has been placed in the recovery position; no CPR, no defibrillation.

“We can bring a great deal of advanced care to the scene but it’s vital the people with the patient, do the right things in those vital minutes while the emergency services are on their way. It makes such a difference to the likelihood of a good outcome.”

The sessions aimed to help members of the public  recognise when a person was in cardiac arrest, understand the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest, educate people about the immediate actions they need to take, teach them how to do effective chest compressions and to use a defibrillator.

The training, which was free and open to all ages, was provided by volunteer paramedics and community first responders.

The project had been made possible following money from Downham Market Tesco Bags for Help scheme which paid for videos and information leaflets.

During the event, members of the town’s Lionesses handed over a £183 cheque to NARS.  

The money was raised at a recent quiz event.

A spokesman said the group was pleased to be able to support this very worthwhile cause.