St John Ambulance youth worker called out of first aid session on gun and knife injuries to treat stabbing victim

RISE first aid training for NEETs

Yesterday (9 April) a St John Ambulance youth development worker was teaching life saving first aid to disadvantaged young people in Lewisham, London when he was urgently called to treat a youth who’d been stabbed in the street.

Fola Odebunmi, who works for our trailblazing RISE project, is leading an ambitious programme aimed at teaching life saving skills to 1,500 young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in Lewisham.

He was teaching first aid to those attending the Woodpecker Youth Club in New Cross in the evening when one of the club’s youth workers alerted him to the stabbing directly outside.

Fola rushed outside to find a teenager slumped in the street, bleeding heavily from two stab wounds to his shoulder, close to his neck.

‘They were very serious life threatening injuries. A friend was pressing a face towel to the wounds to try to stop the bleeding. I showed him how to apply pressure to the wound more effectively and we tried to keep him as still and calm as possible until the emergency services arrived.

‘The stabbing showed how important it is to know life saving first aid’

‘He was conscious but in a lot of pain. An air ambulance was circling overhead but couldn’t find a place to land. I waited until two police officers arrived and took over then went back inside to finish the first aid training.’

Fola was teaching emergency first aid – including how to treat gun and knife wounds – to youngsters aged 10 to 17 when the drama unfolded.

‘I told them the stabbing showed how important it is to know life saving first aid. What really disturbed me was that a group of young people were messing about in a street nearby, ignoring the boy who’d been stabbed and doing nothing to help.’

Wendy Human, Director of Charitable Initiatives and Training at St John Ambulance, said: ‘An unfortunate situation like this is frightening and life threatening. Fola’s first aid knowledge allowed him to deal with the incident calmly while delivering prompt help to give the individual a fighting chance to live. He’s a strong example of why we need more young people with these vital skills.

‘Our thoughts are with the victim and those affected by the incident.’

The first formal qualification of their lives

Fola started working with young people in Lewisham at the start of the year as part of our RISE project, funded through a first aid partnership with the UK’s leading engineering support services company, Babcock International Group.

He and a team of volunteers will spend the next two years working with the borough’s disadvantaged young people and helping them realise their full potential.

Young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) are being encouraged to train as peer educators through the RISE project. This will enable them to pass on their new first aid skills to other young people as well as giving them a BTEC qualification – which for most will be the first formal qualification of their lives.

RISE (Respect, Inspire, Support, Empower) works to transform the lives of young people in some of the country’s most disadvantaged areas. It was born out of the desire of St John Ambulance’s youth members to help other young people living in areas blighted by street crime and violent assaults.

Since launching in four East London boroughs in 2009, RISE has provided first aid training for more than 27,000 young people.

Find out more about RISE

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