CPR and awareness of the use of defibrillators have officially become compulsory parts of the school curriculum in Northern Ireland.
The changes are part of a larger package to provide training and resources to support the rollout of CPR training to schools in Key Stage 3.
The Department for Education is working closely with education partners and key stakeholders including the British Heart Foundation and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.
Michelle McIlveen, Minister of Education, welcomes the additions to the program.
“CPR is an essential and potentially life-saving skill,” she said.
“We know that CPR training as part of the school curriculum can have a clear and measurable impact on survival rates.
“So I’ve proposed legislation to make CPR training and AED awareness mandatory parts of the curriculum at Key Stage 3.”
The minister said she had “already written to the schools to let them know my expectations”.
Fearghal McKinney, from the British Heart Foundation in Northern Ireland, said: “Today is truly a momentous day as legislation comes into force which will lead to a new generation of lifesavers.
“Every day in Northern Ireland people are tragically dying because bystanders lack the confidence or knowledge to perform CPR and defibrillation,” he said.
“We know that in other countries where children are taught CPR in school, survival rates from cardiac arrest are higher.
“With the right support for schools, today’s change to the curriculum promises to improve the chances of survival for countless people who will experience cardiac arrest in the future.”