More than 20 people attended a free CPR and defibrillator training session hosted by the North Gwent Cardiac Rehabilitation and Aftercare Charity and Gwent Defibbers at the St John Ambulance Hall in Abergavenny recently.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a vital first aid technique used to treat cardiac arrest - when someone’s heart stops.

The information-packed two-hour session was led by Chris Pritchard, a local paramedic with more than 30 years’ experience, and Gwent Defibbers founder Mike Morgan, who survived a cardiac arrest 19 years ago thanks to prompt CPR. Following his brush with death, Mike went on to learn CPR and six years ago used his skills to help save a woman’s life.

Course participants learned how to tell the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest, how and when to use CPR effectively, and how to use a public-access defibrillator to restart someone’s heart.

Currently just 1 in 20 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

“When cardiac arrest happens, every minute counts,” says Mike. “And by using CPR and a defibrillator you can more than double someone’s chances of survival.”

Course participants said they felt much more confident after the training.

“CPR is hard work,” admitted one trainee. “You do need some strength to press properly, and to keep going at the right pace – 100 presses per minute.

“But the training dummies are designed to provide feedback, which is really useful.

“And it was great to run through how the defibrillator worked: the fact that it talks you through every step was a real confidence boost.”

The next free CPR training session is on Tuesday, October 12, from 2pm-4pm, at All Saints Catholic Church in Ebbw Vale. To book your place, call Jacky Miles on 07484 658319 or email [email protected]

The North Gwent Cardiac rehabilitation and Aftercare Charity provides ongoing weekly cardiac rehab exercise classes at 10 locations across North Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent. To find out more, go to

Gwent Defibbers provides information and support for heart patients with implanted cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators, and campaigns for more public access defibrillators. For more information go to