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Top charities join forces to launch Every Child a Lifesaver campaign

1 October 2015

St John Ambulance, the British Heart Foundation, and the British Red Cross have joined forces to launch Every Child a Lifesaver – a campaign to make first aid compulsory in all state-funded secondary schools.

Too many people die needlessly where simple first aid could have saved them. If every child had the opportunity to learn first aid before leaving school, some of those lives could be saved.

On 20 November, the Emergency First Aid Education Bill will have its second reading in Parliament and it’s our best chance of making first aid compulsory before the next General Election in 2020.

Members of the public are being urged to visit Every Child a Lifesaver to call on their MP to vote in support of first aid in schools.

Widespread support for first aid in schools

Research developed by the charities shows:

  • 85 per cent of adults agree that first aid should be a compulsory part of the national curriculum
  • 84 per cent of secondary school teachers agree that first aid should be taught on the school curriculum
  • 95 per cent of parents agree that first aid should be taught at secondary school
  • 97 per cent of 11-16 year olds agree they should be taught first aid, saying it should definitely or probably be taught at secondary school.

57 per cent of teachers say they believe it would take first aid training to be a requirement in order for more schools to take it seriously – only 24 per cent of schools currently teach first aid.

Why are we doing this?

There are tens of thousands of medical emergencies every year in the UK, resulting in deaths, injuries and disabilities.

Every year, over 30,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospital – the vast majority (80 per cent) happen in the home and currently less than one in ten survive.

250,000 people suffer a burn injury each year, with 175,000 of these attending A&E.

Many families are touched by medical emergencies involving loved ones, yet too few of us know how to help.

What is emergency first aid?

The Bill, tabled by Teresa Pearce MP, will require secondary schools to give young people the skills and confidence to deal with a range of medical emergencies including cardiac arrests, heart attacks, choking, bleeding, asthma attacks, and seizures.

Importantly, emergency first aid education ensures that pupils know to seek help and support when needed, including from the emergency services.

It also recognises the emotional needs of people who step in to help in a medical emergency – preparing them to deal with situations where their interventions may not have saved a life.

Sue Killen, CEO at St John Ambulance, said:

“Nothing is more important to us than young people learning the skills to save a life. We urge everyone to go to www.everychildalifesaver.org/action so MPs see that this campaign has backing in every community. Without your support, we can't make this happen; but with your support, we could achieve something brilliant: Every Child a Lifesaver.”

Mike Adamson, chief executive at the British Red Cross, said:

“We have a one-off chance to equip a new generation of first aiders with the skills they need to make difference. Mums, dads, teachers and the public can play a vital part in this by urging their local MPs to support this vote and help us to provide young people with a life-saving legacy.”

Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“The survival rate for out of hospital cardiac arrests in the UK is shockingly low compared to other countries where CPR is widely taught. Our MPs and Government now have the opportunity to take responsibility for addressing this needless loss of life. By supporting this Bill they can make life saving skills a mandatory part of every young person’s education and help save more lives.”

The campaign was launched in Parliament on 16 September and the charities hope that people will call on their MPs to support the bill’s second reading on 20 November.

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