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Heartstart training

Would you know what to do in a life-threatening emergency? Learning Emergency Life Support (ELS) skills can help you keep someone alive until professional help arrives.

Our Heartstart initiative teaches people what to do in a life-threatening emergency – simple skills that save lives.

  • About Heartstart schemes
  • Heartstart in your community
  • Heartstart in schools

About Heartstart schemes

Heartstart schemes are run by people like you. They’re independent of the BHF and provide free ELS training in the community and schools. They are aimed at the public, and anyone from the age of ten upwards can attend and learn the complete range of ELS skills. To date 2.6 million people have been trained through Heartstart.

How much do you know about your heart?
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The Heartstart programme includes skills such as:

  • Assessing an unconscious patient,
  • Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),
  • Dealing with choking,
  • Serious bleeding,
  • Helping someone that may be having a heart attack.

Knowing what to do when someone has a cardiac arrest is important. If you can do CPR you can buy the time needed for professional help to arrive and save the life of your loved one. Being able to do CPR more than doubles their chance of survival.


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The Heartstart course is designed the course to follow the current Resuscitation Council (UK) guidelines. The course lasts for two hours and provides practical hands-on learning.

Heartstart in your community

We work in partnership with many organisations and institutions such as local volunteer groups and the ambulance service to establish local community schemes.

Many of these schemes run courses that are open to the general public in their local communities. Others teach specific groups, such as employees in large companies, or army cadets and other youth groups, while some focus on heart patients and their families.

Heartstart in your school

Young people(10+) can attend a Heartstart course. However, some ELS skills like making a 999 call or placing someone in the recovery position can be learnt by much younger children.

The course can be delivered as a stand alone course for children of 10 and over or as a staged programme starting with children aged 4 or 5.

We’re also campaigning to get ELS into the curriculum and into local communities.