High school students are being taught vital lifesaving skills through virtual reality and educational escape rooms as part of a groundbreaking pilot.

More than 600 students in Scotland have been trained so far using innovative technologies such as VR in a bid to increase the amount of people who help in a life threatening situation.

The Young Minds Save Lives pilot programme is being run by the Scottish Ambulance Service and funded by the NHS Charities Together. It provides young people with critical knowledge on how to respond in a medical emergency as well as preventative treatments.

The initiative worked alongside students from S3 at Shawlands Academy and Holyrood Secondary School and has been designed to meet the needs of the local community. As well as helping them learn vital life skills, it also opens up opportunities for volunteering as well as routes into potential careers when they finish education.

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Two local paramedics deliver the programme and cover topics such as CPR, recognising strokes, chest pain and heart attacks, drug and alcohol harm and excessive bleeding from penetrating objects such as knives.

After their initial learning experiences, they were then put to the test via the escape rooms where they had to deal with challenges that quizzed them on the topics they had been taught about over the course of the programme.

One student from Shawlands, Mia Tait, admits it has given her food for thought over a potential career she had never considered prior to this course and was delighted to take part in the programme, which ran from August 2023 to June 2024.

She said: “I’ve really enjoyed taking part in the Young Minds Save Lives pilot programme and have learned loads of new skills. It’s also really increased my confidence, so if I ever came across or was involved in a medical emergency, I’d feel like I’d know what to do now.

“Using a VR headset for our CPR lesson was great fun and when I took it home to show my family, they were keen to have a go too!

“The programme has also given me more of an insight into the work of paramedics and the potential career and volunteering options that are available at the Scottish Ambulance Service when I’m a bit older. I’d never really thought about it before.”

Michael Dickson, Scottish Ambulance Service Chief Executive said: “The Young Minds Saves Lives pilot programme is unique.

“It’s a co-designed project working with the young people using innovative technology and creative learning methods to educate them on vital skills, and it also focuses on working with the local community to support their needs and issues with the outcome of improving population health, supporting healthcare careers of young people, and wider health and wellbeing.

“The feedback we have received from staff, pupils, parents and the community whilst we’ve been running this pilot project has been absolutely fantastic.

“The University of Glasgow have undertaken an evaluation of the programme and the next step, subject to securing further investment, is to roll the initiative out across the country in order to train more high school children in vital life-saving skills and preventative healthcare areas, which will benefit additional Scottish communities.”