Interest in CPR jumps after Itaewon crowd tragedy
Interest in first aid classes is growing after cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was used extensively to try to save victims of the Itaewon tragedy.
“I felt the importance of CPR after hearing about the Itaewon incident,” said Park Jin-ah, a hagwon (cram school) teacher in Guro District, western Seoul.
At least 156 people were killed on Saturday night in Itaewon, central Seoul, when around 130,000 revelers showed up to celebrate Halloween.
When a steeply-sloped alleyway in Itaewon became a death trap, dozens of victims with cardiac arrest received CPR on the streets. Unfortunately, many of those efforts failed.
Stories of bystanders helping paramedics to give CPR to victims went viral online through social media, sparking interest in first aid education.
After coming across such video footage, the 26-year-old Park said she was so shocked she vomited and had nightmares over the past days.
“By learning the key first aid treatments myself, I want to share my knowledge with people around me and save their lives.”
Park said she “isn’t mentally prepared” to start learning right now, but plans to take a class in a few months.
Following the Itaewon crowd crush, posts describing where people can learn CPR are being shared through online communities in Korea.
One user, a self-professed baseball fan, shared a screenshot on the online portal Daum on Monday of her registration for an 8-hour basic first-aid course this month at the Korean Red Cross Incheon branch.
She wrote, “I often go to baseball games, and the exits get packed when the games are over and stadiums have a lot of stairs [similar to the conditions of the Itaewon incident]. I’m excited to learn and teach my family afterwards.”
A spokesperson for the Korean Red Cross said telephone inquiries about CPR certification classes jumped five to six times from Monday through Wednesday compared to before.
School safety education will also be strengthened, the government announced Wednesday.
Since the 2014 Sewol Ferry sinking — which took the lives of 304 people, mostly high school students — students in elementary to high schools are required to receive 51 hours of safety education every year in accordance with guidelines by the Ministry of Education called “Seven Standards for School Safety Education.”
The seven areas include safety education against violence, drugs, Internet addiction, but do not include safety education for crowded places.
In addition, CPR education at schools has been criticized as being weak, as schools made children merely watch videos or taught theories without any hands-on practice.
According to a survey by the Korea Consumer Agency last November of 163 university students who learned first aid in high school, only 19 of them, or 11.7 percent, said they were well-informed about the basic skills.
After paying tribute at a memorial altar in the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education on Monday, Superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education Cho Hee-yeon promised to “drastically improve safety education such as CPR for all students in Seoul.”
The Ministry of Education on Wednesday held an online meeting with the authors of the “Seven Standards” to revise them.
The education ministry announced it will include safety rules in crowded places and training for CPR in the guidelines.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]