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Lifesaver: A Revolutionary New Way To Learn CPR

The UK Resuscitation Council and production agency Unit 9 have launched an interactive app that combines live action film and interactive gameplay to teach users how to deliver CPR.

Around 60,000 people have out of hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year. Less than 10 percent of them survive, but a bystander able to perform CPR can double their chances of survival.

As well as teaching users the correct method of resuscitation, Lifesaver – which is available for free on smartphones, tablets and PCs – uses live action film to simulate stressful cardiac arrest situations.

The app begins with a short video: in the first of three, a teenage boy is walking home with his friends when he suddenly passes out. His friends panic and the user, who assumes the role of someone walking past, is forced to make immediate decisions on whether to help and what to do next.


As well as answering multiple choice questions, users must perform each stage of CPR – from dragging or swiping to tilt their patient’s head to pushing keys or shaking their iPad 30 times to get his heart started. A voiceover responds to each action or answer given, explaining where users went wrong or what they did correctly and when pushing on the patient’s chest, users are told whether to speed up or slow down. Each scenario takes between eight and 12 minutes and at the end, the user is given a score which they can share on social media.


The app was directed by Martin Percy and as producer Pietro Matteucci explains, it had to be realistic. “The whole point of the app was to create an immersive experience that simulates a real life crisis. A lot of bystanders have been taught how to perform CPR but when confronted with someone having a cardiac arrest, they forget or are too scared. The app is designed to make people feel like they are experiencing an emergency, so they are prepared for this kind of situation and minimise the risk of bystander syndrome,” he says.


Lifesaver was funded by the Resuscitation Council and the UK’s Technology Strategy Board. Work started in October, and the app took around five months to produce, says Matteucci. “We filmed the live action first and while that was being edited, we started to work on the gameplay. The production team had a strong input in the development, as it needed to be as realistic as possible,” he adds. After final adjustments were made, the app was tested by users and released this week.


By combining compelling video footage with realistic gameplay, Unit 9 has created an app that is more effective than any first aid lesson with a lifeless mannequin.

The strict time limits and first person perspective leaves users as prepared as they can be for witnessing a real life cardiac arrest and the voiceover, on screen info and accompanying informative film gives users all of the information they need about CPR in a memorable and powerful format. By linking the game to social media, Unit 9 has also appealed to younger users’ competitive side. It’s an innovative app and one that Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, hopes really will save lives.


“We need all the help we can get in the battle to improve cardiac arrest survival rates in the UK – Lifesaver will help give people the confidence to step in and help in a medical emergency. Smartphones  are now being transformed into vital training aids and developments in technology are providing unique and effective ways to give someone the skills to save a life,” he said.

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