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Nursing Blog

Nursing Blog

Stories about Nursing at Edinburgh straight from our staff and students

UoE Saving Lives! Leading CPR awareness

In this initial blog, the undergraduate nursing students reflect on their experiences of creating UoE Saving Lives project to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating, to the University of Edinburgh community. The final-year nursing students involved in this project are Irma Rodriguez, Anabel Fernandez, Lorena Alvarez De Eulate Mullany, Megan Caldwell and Merwa Zen, and the medical student Hannah Kaufmann Wolfe.


Students who founded the Saving Lives campaign standing in front of McEwan Hall

Saving Lives Founders


The inspiration for this project began with the Restart a Heart Day, an initiative led by the Rescusitation Council UK which aims to improve out of hospital cardiac arrest survival rates. According to The British Heart Foundation (ref), only 1 in 10 people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest. In 2022, Irma, Anabel, Lorena, Megan and Merwa volunteered to participate in the Restart a Heart Day, and recalling the experience, they reflect.


Participating in this initiative was incredibly fulfilling, training the public CPR skills and CPR awareness. During a cold day in October 2022, we managed to train more than sixty people, including local adults, children and young people and even tourists walking around at St James Quarter in Edinburgh. The experience was fascinating and rewarding, inspiring the need to replicate this initiative at the University. With the support of university staff, we applied to the Student Grant Experience and the UoE Saving Lives was born! 


UoE Saving Lives project aims to increase CPR awareness within the University of Edinburgh, teaching bystander CPR to students and staff across the University. The initiative was funded by the Student Experience Grant Award in Autumn 2022 and supported by a local organisation Save a Life for Scotland and Nursing Studies.

One of the first events involved recruiting volunteers to help the delivery of the sessions.The event provided an opportunity to meet the team, share the aim of the project and offer to volunteers a refresher session on bystander CPR. More than twelve volunteers attended, excited to contribute to this initiative and increase CPR awareness across the University. The opportunity was also important to build-up the team and planning while enjoying pizza and refreshments.


We were feeling nervous but positive. Teaching students of different levels of study, some with more experience than us created a little bit of imposter syndrome. However, we thankfully had the support of our tutors Lissette (from Nursing Studies) and Susan and Dominika (from Save a Life for Scotland) who helped us to deliver the refresher. With their help, we hosted an informative and engaging session. From this experience we gained confidence in our potential as not only student nurses but as leaders. We gained confidence in our potential as not only student nurses but as leaders. This event gave us a solid foundation for which to deliver bystander CPR awareness (Saving Lives Team).


Students at a recruitment event

Recruitment event – May 2023


In total, six events were organised from May to December 2023, training more than 300 people CPR bystanders, including students, staff and general public. One of the most successful events were during the Freshers week on Central campus due to the high number of students and general public visiting the University. The support from more than 30 volunteers was essential but at times challenging as the majority of them were nursing and medical students balancing studies, placements and personal life.

The funding enabled the purchase of equipment including mannequins and external defibrillators, advertise materials for the events (through posters, banners and pamphlets), venue fees, provide catering during the events and uniforms. Leading the initiative allowed the organising committee to develop essential skills such as communication, strategic planning, project management, and leadership skills. Additionally, constant communication and social media engagement proved to be paramount to not only make the project visible but also to increase the profile of the project engaging new and long-standing volunteers. See Instagram account (uoe_savinglives), or X account (uoe_savinglives) where activities were disseminated and recorded.


Student engaged in CPR

Event outside Gift Shop, central campus, September 2023.


The impact of participating in the initiative has been significant.

Looking back on this experience, I think that this project has helped me to gain confidence in my abilities, not only in my skills as a nurse but as a leader and an educator. At the beginning of the project, it felt quite daunting to be a student and be teaching to other people. I initially felt that students should not be teaching others while they are still learning themselves. I have since learned from this project that we do indeed have the skills and knowledge to be leaders and educators as students. I have learned that being a good leader is not about knowing the most, but it is about having the passion and enthusiasm to share with others what you do know, in order to make a positive impact. This project has given us the confidence to develop as leaders and will no doubt have an impact on our practice as registered nurses. We will be learning throughout our entire careers, and this project has given us the experience of what is involved in educating others and being a good leader.

Also, this experience has allowed me to grow not only professionally, but also personally. I have learned so much about communication, time management and organisation, and prioritisation from being involved in this project. Again, these are skills that will benefit me massively going forward. Not to mention the friendships that will last a long time, I’m sure! The Saving Lives Team has been such a passion project for all the members involved and it is absolutely wonderful to see how it has developed over the past year (Megan, 4th Year Student Nurse).


The impact of the project has been recognised in multiple forums including its recognition at the UK Emergency Medicine Research Group (EMERGE) conference on 24th November 2023 by Save a Life for Scotland group. Emerge is a leading aiming to improve diagnosis, treatment and patient care. For more info: At the University of Edinburgh, the principal & Vice Chancellor Peter Mathieson mentioned the Saving Lives project during the winter graduations 2023 as an example of students’ impact. Recently, the group has been shortlisted for this work to the Nursing Student of the Year category of the Royal College (RCN) Scotland Nurse of the Year 2024 Awards to be held in May 2024.

Students engaged in CPR.

Event at Nucleus, Kings’ Building campus, November 2023.


The outstanding leadership demonstrated by this student-led initiative has inspired other students to keep the initiative forward and alive. In November 2023, the team run an event to share their experiences and two new second-year nursing students took over, Camille Tourneret and Conchi Manso Duffy. Drawing on the experiences and scope of the initiative, the new team applied and successfully secure a new funding by Student Grant Experience Award expanding the scope of project towards inclusive training, interprofessional collaboration and global reach.


Having the opportunity to continue this project has been very exciting and fulfilling. The students that started this project have done an amazing job, and being able to keep it going for another year will allow us to train even more people as well as, hopefully, expanding it throughout the University of Edinburgh and eventually other universities. We are hoping to focus on making the project a constant feature in the University of Edinburgh and expanding it while still keeping the main goal of this project, which is to make people CPR aware. By working together, we are hoping to make it more prominent and therefore broaden its impact on students, staff and bystanders (Camille, 2nd Year Student Nurse)


Engaging in the “Saving Lives” project has kindled a deep passion within me for healthcare education and community safety. This initiative, focused on providing CPR training to students, has been both meaningful and impactful. In my role, tasked with seeking additional funding, I aim to expand our efforts and establish a National Student Group dedicated to CPR training, potentially creating a replicable blueprint for universities worldwide. The prospect of forming a National Student Group excites me as it represents a collaborative hub for innovative healthcare education. Establishing a replicable blueprint adds a global dimension to our mission, envisioning a widespread impact on a global scale (Conchi, 2nd Year Student Nurse)


Students meeting with academics

Transition Meeting February 2024. Founder and new committee Saving Lives, supporting academics from Nursing Studies and Save a Life Scotland.


Saving Lives project is a remarkable example of students’ contribution to society and communities, and Nursing Studies department we are very proud.

If you would like to know more about and get involved, please contact the team to get more information through their communication platforms:


Instagram: uoe_saving lives
X: @uoe_savinglives


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