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Take heart: no CPR world record, but still a success

Thousands of people took part in a world-record attempt in Sydney on Monday, all the while learning high-quality CPR.

Participants attempted to break the Guinness World Record for most people trained in high-quality CPR across multiple venues in one day. Sydney Nursing School master’s student and senior lecturer at University of Tasmania Janelle White, and the University of Sydney’s clinical associate professor of emergency medicine Paul Middleton, led the event.

The attempt took place at Allianz Stadium on November 30, as part of Take Heart Australia Day 2015, but people across Australia were encouraged to get involved, providing they could train with a qualified professional.

While the team didn't change the record books, the event had a wider aim – to save the lives of up to 500 Australians who die every week from sudden cardiac arrest. Take Heart Australia is still tallying up the final numbers, but the effort generated more than 4000 people trained in high-quality CPR at 14 different events across Australia.

The group vowed to have another crack at the record on Take Heart Australia Day next year.

White, who has been an intensive care paramedic for eight years, founded the Take Heart Australia charity with Middleton and Suzanne Davies, senior lecturer in paramedic practice at the University of Tasmania, with the sole mission of increasing the survival rate for cardiac arrest outside of hospital.

“For me as a paramedic, I was attending far too many cardiac arrests where no CPR was being attempted and people weren’t locating public defibrillators,” White said. “I really just felt like this could have bought me some time in my job.

“We need the community to buy us some time so we can get people to hospital alive and have a better chance of them surviving.”

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