Research on CPR training music

Students practising resuscitation

Researchers writing in the British Medical Journal have found that students listening to Nellie the Elephant during first aid training were more likely to use the correct rhythm when practising CPR.

The experiment

In order to be effective, chest compressions during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) need to be carried out at a rate of 100 beats per minute.

During the study, carried out at the universities of Birmingham, Coventry and Hertfordshire, with the West Midlands Ambulance Service, volunteers performed three sequences of one minute of continuous chest compressions on a resuscitation manikin. They were accompanied by no music, repeated choruses of Nellie the Elephant and That’s the Way (I like it).

Anything that helps people learn the correct rhythm during training should be welcomed.

Clive James
Training Porduct Development Manager, St John Ambulance

The results

The group concluded that listening to Nellie the Elephant significantly increased the proportion of people delivering compression rates at close to 100 per minute - the correct rhythm for CPR - although it also increased the proportion of compressions delivered at an inadequate depth.

St John Ambulance's verdict

Commenting on the research Clive James, Training Product Development Manager at St John Ambulance, said: ‘Chest compressions for CPR need to be carried out at 100 beats per minute to be effective and anything that helps people learn the correct rhythm during training should be welcomed.

'We often mention ‘Nellie the Elephant’ in our courses as it’s the right rate and a tune we all know from our childhood. We find it gives people the confidence to know they are keeping the correct rhythm but it’s just one part of learning CPR - as well as getting the rhythm right you need to put the correct pressure on the chest. First aid training will ensure that both the rhythm and depth of the compression are carried out to the correct life saving standard.’