Pupils speak out about first aid

school pupils learning first aid

Over 8 out of 10 school children believe the public would think more positively of young people if they knew they were first aid trained, according to a survey released today by St John Ambulance.

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.

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.

The results come as St John Ambulance prepares to launch its new strategy for schools - Developing skills, saving lives – at The Education Show. The strategy will help ensure access to those who want first aid training and the organisation is urging teachers to help them make a difference to the lives of young people – and those around them.

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.

Elaine Howlings
Head of Training

The situation

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.

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.

We 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.

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 – 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.

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; 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.

'We urge teachers, parents and pupils to get in touch with us to find out more about what we can offer young people. It's only through partnership that we can make this happen.'