It’s hard to believe that 95% of UK adults recently admitted that they wouldn’t know how to give life-saving first aid to someone who was unresponsive and not breathing or who was bleeding heavily. But the stark findings serve only to confirm what we believe at St John Ambulance: that first aid should be taught to every child in school.
Through the many wonderful stories I hear every year, I know that children make very capable lifesavers and I know what they learn at school stays with them for life. And yet at the moment, less than a quarter of secondary schools are teaching first aid and 60% of children have no first aid training at all through their school lives. It’s no wonder, then, that adults are telling us that they’re not confident in dealing with life and death situations such as those described above.
In the British Red Cross research, of 2000 UK adults, only two out of 10 said they knew how to save a choking baby or would recognise the symptoms of a cardiac arrest. Only three in 10 would have the knowledge and confidence to help someone who had collapsed and was unresponsive and not breathing. The same low number would know how to treat heavy bleeding.
Every Child a Lifesaver
We’ve now been given a rare chance to persuade the Government to make first aid a compulsory part of the school curriculum – and I’m asking parents, young people, teachers and members of the public for some urgent support.
Through the Every Child a Lifesaver campaign – run by St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross and the British Heart Foundation – I’m calling for children and young people to receive at least one hour’s age-appropriate first aid tuition each school year.
Just before Christmas, the Department for Education launched an online consultation asking for people’s opinions on the future of the subject known as PSHE, which stands for Personal, Social, Health and Economic and RSE, Religious and Sexual Education.
These are currently non-compulsory subjects but the Government is thinking about making all or part of them compulsory from 2019. St John Ambulance, the British Heart Foundation and the British Red Cross are now campaigning for first aid to be included as a compulsory part within the revised PSHE curriculum.
We’ve submitted our response but now need as many people as possible to back us by answering two to three questions in the online survey – which closes on February 12th – so there’s no time to lose.
Life saving is a life skill
It’s not only those in need of first aid who would benefit from more young people knowing what to do in a medical emergency. As one of the country’s leading youth organisations, St John Ambulance knows that when young people learn first aid, they also grow in confidence and self-esteem. They develop resilience and the ability to lead, make decisions and cope with adversity – skills they carry with them through life.
I see every week how first aid learning empowers children and young people to step forward, take responsibility and provide a sense of contribution to community and society.
We know from own survey, in 2016, that 80% of people believe first aid should be taught in school. That’s why I’m asking supporters to visit our webpage without delay to find out more about the Every Child a Lifesaver coalition and take part in the Government’s call for evidence here: www.sja.org.uk/PSHE/