Don't leave it 'til you need it

doll with arm trapped in door

St John Ambulance unveils new campaign to shock people into learning first aid

Wednesday 18 April 2007

St John Ambulance launches a new, thought-provoking advertising campaign to encourage people to learn first aid. By featuring child-like rag dolls thrown in dangerous positions, the UK's leading first aid charity asks 'Would you know what to do if this were a real child?' Around 2 million children have accidents each year in the UK but the charity found that most people would feel helpless.

First aid training is the best thing any of us can do. I would have never been able to forgive myself if I had been helpless in that situation

Gareth Bloomfield
Father, Winchester


St John Ambulance asked 2000 adults what they'd do if they were faced with the sight of a small child lying lifeless face down in water – echoing the main advert of the campaign. First aid saves lives but the shocking result was that 7 out of 10 would be incompetent in this situation. Their answers ranged from doing nothing and feeling helpless to not checking if the casualty was breathing before starting CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) – which could prove fatal.


The three striking adverts hope to surprise and engage new audiences to learn first aid. Other adverts in the campaign show a doll with a hand trapped in a door and a doll lying motionless at the bottom of some stairs. Each advert is accompanied by the question 'Would you know what to do if this were a real child?'

would you know what to dodoll lying at bottom of stairs

The adverts and associated activity are to highlight St John Ambulance's suite of not-for-profit training courses available to anyone over the age of 10. The courses have been designed to fit around people's lives with short courses running at the weekends and evenings. There is now a first aid package to suit everyone, whatever they want to learn.

'Only 14% of adults surveyed are currently first aid trained yet it is such a vital skill to have. We know that first aid saves lives and can prevent permanent injuries,' says Andrew New, Senior Training Officer for St John Ambulance.  'We undertook extensive research before developing these courses and have designed them to be as accessible to as many people as possible. With eight different courses to choose from, flexible hours and affordable prices, we hope many more people will benefit from first aid training.'

He continues: 'Our new campaign is designed to make people think twice about their own first aid skills. Our message is please learn first aid – don't leave it 'til you need it.'

First aid courses available

  • Basic first aid (3 hours) which teaches the essentials of first aid and is ideal for people who don't want to learn resuscitation.
  • Emergency life support for those that want to learn CPR techniques for adults (3 hours), children and infants (3 hours) or all ages (4 hours).
  • Family first aid (6 hours) is perfect for families of any size who want to learn first aid together as there is set pricing for adults and children.
  • Activity first aid (16 hours) was developed for leaders of activity groups and teaches scenario management in remote areas.

Courses vary within each county and cost from £16.

Supported by national print advertising and regional events the Don't leave it 'til you need it campaign emphasises the fact that going on a first aid course has never been easier.  The charity worked with Feel, the ethical marketing agency, to develop this campaign. It is also the first campaign featuring St John Ambulance's vibrant new look. Launched on April 2, the charity revealed a new visual style designed to make it easier for people to recognise and understand the organisation.

St John Ambulance trains 500,000 people each year in first aid.

Saving lives

Gareth Bloomfield, 37, Winchester used his first aid training to save the live of his 4-year-old daughter when she fell off a swing and lost consciousness.  'It was the worst moment of my life,' said Gareth. 'But all I could do was remain calm and remember what I'd learnt from St John Ambulance.  'First aid training is the best thing any of us can do. I would have never been able to forgive myself if I had been helpless in that situation.'