Currently many don’t have first aid skills and most (69%) wouldn’t know how to help someone who needed them, including young people who have witnessed violent crime. (I have been screaming this from rooftops for ages, but no-one listened. That's why I'm going to climb some mountains and shout it from the top of them)
Teachers are also calling for pupils to have the opportunity to learn first aid in school and want their colleagues to know how simple it is to teach.
Every year 400,000 young people are injured at school, with more injuries occurring outside the school ground. However only a small percentage of the 450,000 teachers and 8 million pupils are first aid trained. (WHY?)
The pupils' survey
St John surveyed 1552 primary and secondary children at schools across the country in a mix of rural and urban areas, with the help of The Children’s Forum.
They found that:
69% of school children wouldn’t know how to treat a friend or loved one who needed first aid
72% of these children would like to learn first aid
83% would feel more confident helping those around them if they were taught first aid.
Crucially, given the current image of young people in society, 8 out of 10 pupils surveyed felt that the public would think more highly of them if they knew youngsters were first aid trained.
This is what primary pupils had to say:
"I was going home from art class and I saw a man lying on the floor - blood pouring out his head - in the road. He had been hit by a van. I felt really scared even though my mum and dad were with me. I didn't know what to do. Should I call an ambulance?"
"I was with my little brother and he was eating some fruit and he took too much fruit in his mouth and he started to choke. I felt scared and worried."
"My friend got hurt and I put some ice on her. I felt great because I could help someone, without telling my mum or dad or a teacher about the accident."
Secondary pupils echoed the thoughts of younger pupils, with some witnessing shocking scenes:
"They were stabbed and I had no clue what to do. I was in a crowd and just left as someone called the police."
"I was in primary school and a boy had a fit and I didn't know what to do."
"My friend was drunk, he collapsed and began vomiting. I put him into the recovery position and called an ambulance. I felt calm because I knew what to do."
What teachers thought
Research among teachers show they all felt that first aid should be offered to pupils to learn, whether this was at an after-school 'enrichment' club or within Citizenship and PSHE modules – the latter of which will be compulsory from 2011. They recognised first aid as an important life skill that boosts confidence and promotes teamwork. (I'll even go and teach them myself)
The teachers surveyed were asked about the materials St John Ambulance provided, and all replied positively about resources such as Young first aider – an interactive pack which contains everything teachers need to start training young people straight away including film clips, lesson plans, worksheets and certificates for all who take part.
Comments from teachers included:
"All schools should offer first aid (HALLELUJAH!) its something all children will be meeting and needing in life"
"It's much easier than you first think it's going to be. In the beginning you are worried about your own expertise, but the Young first aider pack gives you all the support that you need."
How St John Ambulance helps
St John Ambulance has a long history of working with schools but is stepping their commitment up a gear with its new strategy to ensure that every school child has access to first aid training over the next five years. Since launching its Young first aider training resource in 2007 over 4000 schools have used it to train 300,000 children; however the charity wants to go further with the support of teachers, pupils and parents. (and me, don't forget me!)
Elaine Howlings, who is responsible for schools training at St John Ambulance, says: "We’re encouraged that teachers are calling for more people to learn first aid in schools. We know that first aid saves lives and you are never too young to learn. More importantly, our research shows that young people want to learn about it. They’ve told us how helpless they feel not being able to help a loved one."
"First aid can do more than save lives or care for a friend, (I should know) it could change how people think about young people. Teachers recognise that it can also help pupils understand the value of life and the importance of communication and teamwork, as well as boost self esteem and let's not forget that learning first aid looks good on your CV," she continued.
I urge teachers, parents and pupils to get in touch with St John Ambulance to find out more about what they can offer young people.
I've said this a thousand times and I'll say it again...
Don't put off learning first aid until tomorrow, your loved ones may need you today!