Friday 30 December, 2022: As many of us vow to lose weight, get fit and eat more healthily, or take up a new hobby as a New Year resolution – St John Ambulance is urging more people to consider learning first aid as a vital new skill for 2023.  

The first aid and health response charity says learning basic first aid, or refreshing existing first aid knowledge, can help save lives of family, friends, and community members.  

St John polled 1,000 UK young people and 1,000 UK adults to test attitudes and awareness of first aid from knowing how to use a defibrillator, to life saving skills and what first aid skills they would most like to learn.  

The survey revealed 73% of adults and 75% of 10-17- year-olds agreed ‘there is a moral obligation for more of us to be trained in first aid skills.’   

However, in practice, not many of us would know what to do in a real-life emergency.  

Young people were top of the class with slightly better first aid know-how than the older generation - possibly due to first aid being part of the school curriculum.  

However, there is still room for improvement across all ages, as just 29% said they were ‘very confident’ they’d know what to do in a first aid emergency, such as giving CPR or dealing with a choking incident.    

Worryingly, only 15% said they were ‘very confident’ using a defibrillator to restart a person’s heart if they needed to.  

The findings highlight a red flag for those aged 45-54, aka the ‘sandwich generation’ – caring for children and elderly parents – as just 41% said knowing how to save a life was important to them. It is this age group who would benefit greatly from first aid training and who are perhaps more likely to deal with a first aid emergency with a vulnerable person, BUT who ranked first aid awareness as a low priority to them.  

Since 2020, physical first aid has been taught in schools in England, and the survey found 75% agreed mental health first aid should be taught in schools.  

Survey breakdown

  • Heart attacks and choking are the two first aid incidents those surveyed wanted to learn about   
  • A fifth (20%) wanted to know how to treat a knife wound and overdoses  
  • Defib awareness – just 15% said they were very confident in using a defibrillator 
  • Just 29% were very confident they’d know what to do in a first aid emergency  
  • Both young people and adults agreed there was a ‘moral obligation for more of the public to be trained in first aid   
  • 75% agreed mental health first aid should be taught in schools alongside physical first aid  

 Supporting communities with free first aid in the community 

St John runs free first aid awareness sessions to support communities to be more resilient by teaching lifesaving skills and knowledge via its network of Community Advocate volunteers. Fully inclusive, with no requirements or prior learning needed, or tests or assessments, the sessions take place in a variety of locations such as community centres, sports halls, youth group buildings, and faith meeting places. Online sessions are also available.  

In November, 35 sessions took place, with 650 people receiving free first aid training. St John hopes to grow the Community Advocate Network and increase free first aid opportunities to the public in 2023.  

The health and first aid charity currently run three free community first aid packages: (online or in person) 

  • Everyday First Aid 
  • Emergency First Aid (the CPR Community Network) 
  • Adult & Child First Aid 

Adam Greenwood, Community Engagement Manager, St John Ambulance, said:  

“St John has always supported communities with accessible first aid. We offer a range of free first aid courses from a 90 minute ‘every day first aid’ package to our emergency first aid package to help people become more aware of the importance of first aid, prepare them for emergency situations and give them the confidence to help others.”   

The Emergency First Aid package is rolled out through St John’s CPR Community Network, a partnership between NHS England and NHS Improvement to encourage everyone to learn CPR and how to use defibrillators.  

To access first aid skills, people can visit St John’s YouTube Channel or to find out moreabout St John community first aid in their area visit Free First Aid Awareness Sessions | or email: