National competition tests first aid skills

national first aid competition winners 09

Two friends who met when they were St John Ambulance Cadets dazzled judges with their life savings skills and first aid knowledge to win the St John Ambulance UK First Aid Championship.

Darren Whitehead and Peter Connelly, of Jim Whitehead Training in Grimethorpe, Barnsley, beat off stiff competition from 20 other teams during a series of rigorous tests at the championships in Rugby, Warwickshire.

St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity, hosted the 61st annual finals of the UK First Aid Championship as a challenge to first aid teams from industry and voluntary organisations throughout the country to demonstrate their competence in a variety of realistic first aid scenarios.

I’m really proud of them both – this is a brilliant competition and extremely well thought of.

Jim Whitehead
Founder of Jim Whitehead Training

Darren and Peter impressed the judges with their cool, calm attitude and expertise, and Darren also scooped the trophy awarded to the best individual – a trophy presented for the first time in 1979, when the winner was Darren’s father Jim.

‘I’m really proud of them both – this is a brilliant competition and extremely well thought of,’ said Jim, the founder of Jim Whitehead Training, a personnel training company.

‘Being a colliery town, Grimethorpe has a long history of first aid, and these two lads have been friends since they joined the St John Ambulance Cadets together when they were just boys. We are all former St John Ambulance members and have tremendous respect for the organisation.

‘It was great to see Darren accept the individual trophy as well. The first time that was ever presented, it was to me back in 1979. I went on to win it twice, and it makes me very proud that Darren has followed in my footsteps.’

national first aid competition 09

Following on the next day was the Young Grand Prior Competition. Rachel Cull, Jodie Ainscough, Tommie Aspinall and Stef Stephens beat off stiff competition from 29 other teams of young people aged 13 or over to take the acclaimed national first aid title.

The competition proved more popular than ever this year with increased numbers taking part. It attracted nine young adult teams aged 17-24 and 21 youth teams aged 13-17. They travelled from all over the UK to take part and were put through a series of rigorous tests at the championships in Rugby, Warwickshire.

Participants in the UK First Aid Championship were selected from the top first aid and health and safety personnel in their respective industries. All of them held a Health and Safety Executive-approved first aid at work certificate and had already won first aid competitions to qualify for entry to the championship. The competition has a youth section with the younger teams coming from every major youth organisation, all having successfully completed the St John Ambulance Young first aider course or similar youth first aid qualifications.

Darren and Peter’s win came after months of training to make sure they were ready for anything. The competition is tough and St John Ambulance brings in volunteer actors from the Casualty Union to be the patients, with extremely realistic injuries and actions.

Linda Coude, the administrator for the adult competition, said: ‘The standard of expertise and level of training demonstrated at this championship was once again very high and showed the commitment and dedication within business and industry to health and safety issues. The aim each year is to encourage first aid in the workplace and to help first aiders train for any eventuality, focussing on those who volunteer for the benefit of others.’