What with GCSEs and A Levels, teenagers deal with a lot of exam stress throughout the year. When results day rolls around in mid-August, teenagers often prepare celebrations to look forward to. They will either be toasting their successes. Or drowning their sorrows. Either way, results day marks a time of high emotion, their peer group and probably alcohol.

Some teenagers celebrate with a holiday with friends, go to a festival or throw a party. It is a chance to blow off steam, and practise ‘adulting’.

In the case of a trip or festival it may be their first extended period away from home without adult supervision. Wherever they go, they are likely to be exposed to peer pressure, risks and situations they may find difficult. Accidents and emergencies happen. Experiencing and dealing with the unknown are skills that all will need to develop.

Managing in a crisis is an invaluable life-skill – joining a tailored first aid course, can help young people become more risk aware, as well as equipping them with invaluable skills to help themselves and others in a medical emergency.

These British Red Cross statistics reveal some worrying facts:

  • More than 532,000 young teenagers have been left to cope with a drunken friend who was sick, injured or unconscious in the last year.
  • 1/4 of young people have had to deal with asthma attacks.
  • 1/3 of teenagers have had to cope with someone with a head injury.
  • 1/5 teenagers have had to help someone who is choking.

In an emergency situation: 44% panicked and 46% simply didn’t know what to do.

97% of those surveyed believed first aid education would improve their confidence, skills and willingness to act in a crisis.

Key points to talk about with your teen:


Alcohol can cause physical problems through over-consumption,  but can also increase other risks when consumed in smaller amounts.

If someone has collapsed due to drinking too much, the first thing to be done is to check they are breathing normally. Then, you should roll them into the recovery position with their airway clear. Continue to check their breathing regularly and call the emergency services.

Those who are drunk may struggle to maintain body temperature, so it is a good idea to cover them with a blanket or similar item. This is especially important if they are outside (even if it’s summer).

The unconscious person may have hit their head but be unaware due to their drunken state. Anyone with a head injury should be monitored for at least 48 hours and if the person is drunk, they should always be assessed by a health professional.


Illegal substances can affect the judgements we make, and our capacity to evaluate risks. Drugs alter one’s self-perception and lead teenagers to become even greater risk takers.

People may not know what they have taken, either because they were given the drugs by someone else, have taken more whilst under the influence or were given a dodgy mix (nearly all street drugs are laced with other types of drug meaning it’s difficult to know what you’ve bought).

You should help someone who has taken drugs to sit in a safe place and take sips of water. If they seem in a bad way, seek help as a matter of urgency.

If they become unconscious, check they are breathing and put them in the recovery position.Keep checking that they are still breathing. If they were to stop breathing, you would perform CPR ideally with a face shield to prevent you inhaling the substance they have taken.

Asthma Attacks

Stress and panic can worsen an asthma attack. You should then encourage them to take their blue reliever inhaler – if they haven’t got this, it isn’t working, or they are getting worse, they need an ambulance quickly.

Falling from a height or being hit by a car

If you suspect someone may have a spinal injury, it is still absolutely vital to protect their airway and ensure they continue to breathe. However, it is also important to avoid twisting their spine. Maintaining a clear airway is of paramount importance and so you will still need to roll them into the recovery position if they are unconscious and breathing and it is best to log roll them with the help of others. Treat bleeding by applying direct pressure; watch for signs of shock and phone for an ambulance.

So, if at all possible, please sign up your teenager for a first aid course before they start packing their bag. 

Teenagers really enjoy learning first aid. It is an invaluable skill, that could save their life. Not only this, it looks great on their CV, is highly sought after by employees and demonstrates a level of maturity and responsibility.  

First Aid for Life run tailored first aid courses for groups and individuals – we can address specific holidays, festivals and any other needs and ensure it is practical, engaging, relevant and fun.

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

First Aid for Life runs practical and online courses for young people. We run scheduled and bespoke courses for groups of friends and are happy to tailor them for specific requirements such as post exam trips away, university, Gap years and sports qualifications. Please contact emma@firstaidforlife.org.ukfirstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036

In addition, http://onlinefirstaid.com has a specific First Aid for Teenagers course which will allow them to access these vital skills on their computers and mobiles.

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit www.firstaidforlife.org.uk  and www.onlinefirstaid.com for more information about our practical and online courses and to access free resources.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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