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In 2019 Chris Purnell and Chris Alves of the Scottish Ambulance Service ran three CPR Awareness courses for Disabled people. These were the first of their kind in Scotland, and were run in collaboration with three Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) Inclusion Scotland, Euan’s Guide, and Leonard Cheshire.

Each session had around 10 participants, all of whom were disabled and had a range of impairments. 

A group of attendees sat around a CPR mannequin asking questions

The content of the course included: 

  • Knowing the Chain of Survival and some associated statistics
  • The meanings and main priorities in CPR
  • Learning about PADS
  • Opening the airway
  • Adult and Pediatric BLS
  • Helping through instruction
  • Knowing your limits!

The goal of the course was to build confidence in using this knowledge – whether that be by doing it yourself or communicating it to someone else. 

During the course folks were encouraged to try CPR on the mannequin, and this was facilitated by making adjustments, such as putting the mannequin on the table. Participants were reassured that it was okay if they were not able to try this. During the course there was also an opportunity to practise instructing someone else on how to perform CPR. 

Participants instruct Ed on how to give CPR

The courses were very successful. 100% of the attendees said they felt very comfortable at the prospect of using the skills they had learnt. One participant shared that “I’ve seen a demo of cpr before and it put me off, but after this course I feel confident to help save a life.”

Chris Purnell, co – author of this course, shared: 

“I created this course for disabled people like me. I wanted us to be able to learn CPR and be able to help save a life. 

I am sure that many of you already teach courses that are inclusive and you welcome people of all abilities to participate. Through research we found that disabled people do not regularly attend CPR courses, as there is a belief within the disabled community that they are for able-bodied learners. Like you, we want to empower everyone to help save a life. We created this course to let disabled people know that they too can learn CPR and would welcome your support to bring this message to the disabled community. 

Please remember to not be afraid to speak about difference with us. Disabled people know about difference and adaptation – most of us have been dealing with it for our whole lives. If you don’t know something, then please ask us. You won’t offend us. We are not anything to be afraid of. 

I’d like to thank you for your attention, care, and your support in training disabled people in CPR to help save a life.”

If you have run a CPR awareness sessions with Disabled participants and would be interested in sharing your experience with the training community then please get in touch with us at