Hands-on training

Joyce Teo sat in on a four-hour CPR and AED course.

It seems untrained bystanders can use AEDs (automated external defibrillators), to save lives. You switch the device on and it prompts you what to do. So why take a course?

Still, I gamely went for a basic course in AED and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in June.

At the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) course, chief instructor Hidayat Razak explained what a sudden cardiac arrest is and how to spot the signs. He then went through how to do CPR and use an AED.

If you're the only one around who can perform CPR, just do it, even if you're unsure of your abilities. "It's better to break some ribs while doing it than to not do it," Mr Hidayat said.

Hands-on experience makes you realise the urgency - in a sudden cardiac arrest, the person loses consciousness within 15 seconds.

If he is not treated within minutes, he will die.

While someone is fetching the AED, you can buy precious time with CPR - it keeps the blood flowing to vital organs.

For every minute of delay in giving CPR and defibrillation, the survival rate drops by 7-10 per cent, said Mr Hidayat.

It was helpful to be reminded of seemingly obvious things, like staying clear as the AED is about to enter shock mode.

To get certified, you take an informal exam at the end of the course.

Organisations such as Changi General Hospital and the Singapore Red Cross Society also offer courses, for just over $100.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2015, with the headline 'Hands-on training'. Print Edition | Subscribe