Should First Aid be taught in schools?

There is an ongoing debate as to whether first aid training should be incorporated into the curriculum. It is undoubtably a positive decision to teach a whole new generation First Aid skills so that they are able to help themselves and others in a medical emergency. But is the school curriculum not already pretty full and could there be a real danger of people doing lip service to these vital skills in order to tick a box?

First Aid for Life already teach numerous highly engaging and informative practical courses in schools in small groups and the feedback is incredible.

Recently we have been contacted by an increasing number of schools asking us to come and train a whole assembly of school children in less than an hour! Clearly the children are not going to benefit from this approach and we have always politely refused. However there are unscupulous companies out there who will offer that training and it will be a complete waste of money!

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation has reported that;“Lives are needlessly lost to cardiac arrests every day because not enough people have the skills or confidence to perform CPR. But the simple measure of teaching all children these skills could save thousands of lives. All parties should now follow this example and commit to making CPR an integral part of every child’s education.” In Norway and Seattle where these skills are routinely taught in schools the survival for Cardiac Arrest in the community is far higher than the UK.

In the UK there are over 30,000 cardiac arrests a year outside of hospital, but less than one in ten victims of cardiac arrest survive to be discharged from hospital. Survival rates in the UK lag behind those in other developed countries and areas such as Norway, where the survival rate is 25%, North Holland where the survival rate is 21% and Seattle in the US where the survival rate is 20%. These figures have to be interpreted carefully, as there are they do not relate to the same data; there is consensus that we must improve survival rates in the UK. CPR can double the chances of survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest. It is therefore vital that we equip more people with the skills, ability and confidence to help.

The UK is one of very few EU Countries where First Aid is not an integral part of the driving qualication and surely that it is another extremely important area to explore. Currently only 7 per cent of the UK population has the skills and confidence to carry-out basic first aid in an emergency and so something needs to be done to turn this around.

Wherever First Aid is taught, those training it should be suitably trained and have the experience and knowledge to talk around the subject and ideally have used their skills in the real world. It is not appropariate to try and upskill the teachers and give them yet more to have to squeeze into an already packed curriculum. The schools where we teach generally use the PHSE funds to organise an incredibly useful, tailored course and that is how it should be. Alternatively, if time and money is tight; invest in a top quality relevant online first aid course and maybe supplement with a shorter practical course.

Prompt, appropriate First Aid saves lives and the more people that are properly empowered with these skills the better.

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