TO «YOUNG ERC» ΑΝΑΔΕΙΚΝΥΕΙ ΤΟ KIDS SAVE LIVES ΣΕ ΟΛΗ ΤΗΝ ΕΥΡΩΠΗ
Στο Newsletter Φεβρουαρίου του Young ERC δημοσιεύθηκε συνέντευξη που παραχώρησε ο Πρόεδρος του ανθρωπιστικού οργανισμού «KIDS SAVE LIVES – Τα παιδιά σώζουν ζωές», Αναστάσης Στεφανάκης, στην Mrs Maria Georgiou.
Eυχαριστoύμε θερμά τόσο στο Young ERC, όσο και την Mrs Maria Georgiou για την ενδιαφέρουσα αυτή συνέντευξη, που κάνει την προσπάθεια μας γνωστή σε όλη την Ευρώπη.
Η συνέντευξη παρατίθεται αναλυτικά παρακάτω:
- Please name three cities/countries that you have been to. One of them should be a city/country where you had the best conference experience, one where you had your best culinary experience, and the city/country you currently live in.
Bologna/ Italy, Halkidiki/Greece, Nicosia/Cyprus
Thank you! We’ll reveal which city is which at the end of the interview!
- Now Can you tell us a few things about the Kids Save Lives movement?
With great pleasure! Thank you very much Young ERC for giving us the opportunity to talk aboutsomething so important!
In 2015, in Greece, we learned about ERC´s most important statement “Kids Save Lives”, whereby it invited all institutions to train CHILDREN in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, within their SCHOOLS. The initiative belongs to Professor Bernd BÖTTIGER, who together with his colleagues managed to get this recommendation adopted by the WHO. 7 years later, we have seen the movement grow and develop in many countries around the world, showing that aiming at children – such a promising target group with infinite potential – is probably THE NEXT BIG THING in the resuscitation world.
- What prompted you to start the Kids Save Lives movement in Greece?
In 2007, the Ambulance Service in Greece where I work, sent me to serve in Kassandra, Halkidiki, a specialgeographical area in many ways. I quickly realized that it was difficult – and in most cases UNFEASIBLE – tosave a life that is in danger, mainly due to long distances, poor road network and problematic coverage bythe ambulance service – especially in the summer months, where the population increases about 20 times.
So, after common reflections and discussions with my then colleague Mrs. Katerina KAKANI, we decided to become ERC instructors, in order to start a social educational project outside our working hours, which aimed at preparing the COMMUNITY to save lives.
- When and how did the Kids Save Lives movement start in Greece?
In 2009-2010, we started educational missions in the local communities, with a dual purpose; educate thepopulation in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, and proliferate and catalogue Automated ExternalDefibrillators.
In this “journey” we recognized that CHILDREN were better at skills than their parents, so our focus was mainly on them! In 2010, we started morning training sessions in local schools, and quickly this program was developed to include about 100 schools of Northern Greece and in some Aegean Sea islands, which shared common problems with Kassandra.
In 2015, the training team consisted of about 30 volunteer ERC instructors and we decided to found the first humanitarian organization in Greece that wοuld focus on educating children in Greece and disseminating AEDs in schools and municipalities. The INSPIRATION for the name of the organization came from the news of the establishment of ERC´s “Kids Save Lives”, and to make our effort stand out, we added the Greek translation of “Ta Paidia Sozoun Zoes” next to it. From that moment, the effort was launched with new people who came to us, and new collaborations, most prominent of which was that with the Hellenic Society of Emergency Prehospital Care (HSEPC) and its president Dr. Konstantinos FORTOUNIS!
- How difficult is it to keep such a large-scale movement alive?
It is as difficult as it needs to be, to keep us on our toes and make us try every day to become better, bigger and more efficient.
I believe that the secret is always to have a just and righteous purpose: for us, this is to teach CHILDREN to save lives, while transmitting messages of volunteerism and solidarity to tens of thousands of children, parents and teachers, making our world even just a little better and safer.
This purpose attracted scientists, healthcare professionals, children, parents, teachers, politicians, the Greek Government, lay people, graphic designers, photographers, etc. to come close to KSL and offer substantial social work.
The second secret to keeping such an organization alive is to not be complacent and to grow constantly.
New programs and new collaborations happen non-stop! KSL may be the poorest organization in Greece and perhaps in Europe at the moment, but it has a rich vision and output, with dozens of programs running despite the huge pandemic problem.
Our own students grew up, progressed and became ERC instructors, even from the age of 16. Together with them:
·We trained more than 95,000 pupils, parents and teachers pro bono (in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Education and the HSEPC)
·We achieved the institutionalization of the skills workshop “Kids Save Lives” by the Greek Ministry of Education
·We created the National Map of Defibrillators, which records and checks defibrillators in Greece https://kidssavelives.gr/en/aed/
·We placed 1/5 of the total registered AEDs in Greece in schools and municipalities
·We campaigned and managed to reduce the cost of AEDs in Greece through the reduction of VAT on AEDs, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance
·Our students dealt with 100 emergencies and saved 25 victims of Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest, with the unprecedented case of 14-year-old Nefeli standing out (she is the first child in Greece to bring back a drowning victim – her 10-year-old sister – after she had participated in the Kids Save Lives program).
·We created the world’s first national student competition (Kids Save Lives Championship – in
collaboration with HSEPC), which showed that the best success rates were achieved by the youngest children (10-12 years old), and other programs as well, through virtual reality (VR CPR Challenge) or ROBOkids Save Lives that had a tremendous impact at the young ages.
- Those are fantastic achievements! How many people are active in Kids Save Lives in Greece to keep it going?
There are currently a few hundred volunteers. Before the pandemic, we had 826 registered Basic and Advanced ERC instructors, who participated in daily missions in Greek schools. A large percentage of these instructors are instructors from other educational institutions, such as the HSEPC, who have embraced the program and our organization from the outset.
It is true that the pandemic slowed down volunteer participation. However, our conscious decision to intensify our efforts in the face of the pandemic, led to an inflow of new volunteers into the organization, who brought with them new expertise that eventually helped develop new programs such as the European Erasmus+ funded LIFEFORCE program or the multilingual App iSAVElives, in collaboration with the technology giant MICROSOFT (https://kidssavelives.gr/en/isavelives/).
- How many schools have you trained so far?
From 2010 to 2015 when the organization was established, we managed to implement missions in about 100 schools in the country.
From 2016 onwards, and after the cooperation with the HSEPC and the approval by the Hellenic Ministry of Education, the numbers skyrocketed. Under the scientific responsibility of Dr. Varvara FYNTANIDOU and Mr. Anastasios SAMARAS, by March 2020 (pandemic start in Greece) we had trained another 570 schools with fantastic results and evaluations, through 4-hour educational programs.
During the pandemic we developed the new Webinar iSAVELives FREE (First Responder Education) – suitable for the whole family. About 25,000 children, parents, students, teachers and Greek schools in 10 European countries have already participated in the webinars. At the same time, we developed live broadcasting on social media to continue being in touch with the children, and we also launched our new YouTube channel, which has exceeded 250,000 views of our approximately 60 educational videos.
All this became a reality thanks to the collective effort of old and new partners!
- Can you tell us a little about the European LIFEFORCE program?
With great pleasure! LIFEFORCE (Learning Initiative For Elementary school Fun Oriented Resuscitation Coaching Europewide) promises to become our best program to date!
In 2012, in a primary school in Polygyros, Halkidiki, the School principal requested the participation of young children aged 6-10 in the program. I had never tried it and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know the peculiarities of this age group as well. It was not long before I realized that the experiment FAILED! I did not have the knowledge and I was not properly prepared for the education of such young children. I also did not have the appropriate educational tools , so I decided to put it aside until we managed to create a suitable educational program for those ages.
The opportunity came in 2017 thanks to the collaboration with the child psychologist Lina TZANI who recognized that we can educate YOUNG CHILDREN in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, through fun activities. In 2018, the idea of submitting a proposal for a European program with important partners came into force, thanks to a new collaboration with Ms. Sevasti ETMEKTSOGLOU who laid out a complete multi-disciplinary educational approach and co-wrote the proposal with Mr. Theodoros KALYVAS.
Positive results usually stem from TEAM EFFORT by people and institutions! Thanks to the collaboration with fantastic people – our long-time mentors, such as Professor Bernd BÖTTIGER, Dr. Federico SEMERARO, Dr. Marios GEORGIOU, Dr. Konstantinos FORTOUNIS, as well as Dr. Ioannis KOZARIS of the University of Thessaly (project leader, along with the Italian Resuscitation Council, the University Hospital Cologne, the Hellenic Society of Emergency Prehospital Care, “KIDS SAVE LIVES – Ta Paidia Sozoun Zoes” and European University of Cyprus), we managed to get the European LIFEFORCE Program approved and financed by Erasmus+ through the Hellenic State Scholarship Foundation.
I am excited because most of our colleagues are prominent scientists who have lent their credibility and brilliance to the pedagogical suitability of a training program in CPR, a program, which in September 2022 is expected to be applied in select primary school children across Germany, Italy, Cyprus and Greece.
- Can you tell us how other countries could get involved in the Kids Save Lives program?
Of course! I initially recommend it to anyone who is involved with resuscitation training worldwide and I suggest that they contact Professor Bernd BÖTTIGER and Dr. Federico SEMERARO, whose valuable experience and guidance will provide them with every possible help, as was the case with us.
My advice is nothing more than to follow in our footsteps.
In other words, to gain the valuable experience of educating children in the actual field, through many visits to schools.
Government support is very important in this effort. I suggest that they contact the Ministry of Education of their country and get the official approval of the Kids Save Lives program in their homeland.
The Greek “KIDS SAVE LIVES – Ta Paidia Sozoun Zoes” organization will be by their side in any way that is requested, always in consultation with the inspirers and founders of the global KSL institution.
Young ERC readers can find some training and rescue tools in English on our website: https://kidssavelives.gr/en/home/
- Answers to the starter questions:
My favorite conference was the ERC Conference in Bologna, Italy in 2018. This conference strongly emphasized the use of technology in resuscitation and the development of the Kids Save Lives program by Dr. Federico SEMERARO and his colleagues. I have many friends and associates there, the city is magical, reminiscent of a beautiful journey into the past, with Europe’s first university making it a very vibrant city with thousands of students, while also being the base of the Italian Resuscitation Council. I am grateful to the ERC for awarding me the Peter BASKETT Bursary- thanks to a letter of recommendation by Dr. Marios GEORGIOU – which helped me to attend the conference and report recent developments in Greece.
Kassandra in Halkidiki Greece is where Anastasios currently lives and Nicosia Cyprus is where Anastasios has eaten the best food in a traditional Cypriot taverna. However, he says ‘‘My favorite food is a traditional Greek dish, called “Mousaka”. It will be a great pleasure to treat the members of ERC to a delicious mousaka, when they visit Greece and especially the beautiful Halkidiki, with its crystal clear blue waters and its intense nightlife.”
Anastasios Stefanakis is a fully-qualified EMT, active ERC and NAEMT instructor, and an enthusiastic supporter of the worldwide Movement “Kids Save Lives” for the education of CHILDREN in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. He is the current President of the humanitarian organization KIDS SAVE LIVES – Ta Paidia Sozoun Zoes. Scientifically responsible for the iSAVElives app (Application for the activation of 112 European emergency number and the alert of Community First Responders), the Greek National Map of Defibrillators, two educational programs in Greek schools and inspirer of LIFEFORCE – education of young children in European schools .