FIREFIGHTERS in Bolton are giving primary schools and community groups the opportunity to learn life-saving CPR skills. Reporter Liam Thorp was invited to Farnworth fire station for a hands-on experience.

LIKE most people, I have seen the Vinnie Jones adverts on TV that tell you what to do if you see someone in need of urgent CPR.

The former football hardman does a good job of explaining the techniques, but I was still keen to get some hands on experience.

At Farnworth fire station in Albert Road the free Heartstart training provided just that.

Firefighters Dale Chetto and Mike Flynn talked me through the basics and it was clear both men are passionate about the training. All the crews across the borough are fully trained in delivering the British Heart Foundation course which gives them basic life-saving skills including CPR.

The idea now is to get that crucial knowledge across to Bolton’s younger generation.

Dale said: “It is about giving the kids that basic training in their formative years — and if it is hands-on, like the training we deliver, hopefully they will remember most of it for a long time.

“I think this training should be in the national curriculum. It is vital that the youngsters know what to do in a life-threatening situation and also have the confidence to do it.”

My teachers quickly informed me that when it comes to CPR, the best way to learn is by doing it.

After watching video clips and listening closely to the guys, it was my turn to give life-saving a go.

The “patient” was a dummy who was playing the part of an unconscious person and it was up to me to keep it alive — the pressure was on.

Basic training explains the need to call for help and ensure the emergency services are en route before beginning CPR, so I shook off my inhibitions and got into character.

“Help!” I shouted, before “calling” 999. I had been shown the technique of chest compressions and began pumping away at the dummy’s sternum, pausing only to perform mouth-to-mouth at intervals.

The firefighters were excellent in the way they helped me understand the simple techniques and by the end of the session I was confident I could give someone a fighting chance of staying alive until help arrived. Mike explained that teaching young people was one of the better parts of the job.

He said: “We think it is really important to keep it simple and get that basic training across.

“If they can go away with some of the key parts for the rest of their lives it just means the chances of someone surviving are that bit higher.”

Community groups and schools (year six) are invited to have free training in the form of two one-hour sessions or one two-hour session. To book call 01204 905 127 or email bolton&wigan@manchester