first aid education for all 

We speak up for better first aid training

We’re calling on UK governments to create more opportunities for people to learn first aid throughout their life. 

Children practising first aid for a burn

What’s wrong?  

The majority of people in the UK lack the confidence or skills to provide basic first aid in an emergency situation. This leads to unnecessary deaths, injuries and disabilities, and can put greater pressure on emergency services.

The impact of not knowing first aid

Up to 59 per cent of deaths from injuries could be prevented had first aid been carried out before emergency medical services arrived. These are the findings of a British Red Cross study conducted by the University of Manchester.

Only one in 20 adults feels confident and willing to take action in potentially life-threatening emergencies.

First aid in schools

We want everyone to have the skills to save a life and the best way to build people's confidence is to start young. Therefore, we strongly welcome the government’s proposal to include first aid education for all children and young people in England.

This was announced in July 2018 as part of the government’s proposals on the new subjects of Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Health Education.

First aid education will increase the number of children and young people able and willing to help in an emergency. It will also improve their understanding of health issues and how to care for themselves, building a new generation of life-savers.

First aid education also develops a child or young person’s self-confidence, self-esteem and ability to cope with emergencies, as well as an understanding of risks. The public benefits both from the skills young people learn and the sense of community learning first aid helps create.

We have long spoken out about the importance of teaching children first aid. In addition, we have called for first aid to be taught once a year, every year throughout primary and secondary school. This work has been done as part of the Every Child a Lifesaver Coalition, in partnership with the British Heart Foundation and St John Ambulance.

As part of the government’s consultation on its proposals for Health Education we have recommended:

  • The guidance should ensure that first aid remains a core component of Health Education. First, it helps children and young people learn life-saving first aid skills. In addition, it helps them learn how to understand health issues, care for themselves, and make a contribution to their communities.
  • The guidance should require teaching first aid for at least one hour, once a year, every year. This allows children and young people to develop skills throughout their education.

The British Red Cross welcomes the government’s clear commitment to developing the health and wellbeing of England’s children and young people. This also includes exploring the issues of loneliness and volunteering as part of the Health Education curriculum.

First aid education can ease the pressure on A&E

British Red Cross research found that first aid education could help ease the pressure on A&E.

The study, commissioned by the Red Cross and conducted by the University of the West of England, Bristol and the University of Bristol, found that: 

  • Over a third of all survey participants said they attended A&E because they were ‘worried and didn’t know what to do’.
  • More than half of the people surveyed in the study had sought advice before going to A&E, e.g. from their GP surgery or a relative.
  • Patients struggle to assess severity of health problems and know where best to get help.
  • First aid is a ‘lost skill’ – health workers say most patients haven’t attempted first aid before coming to hospital.

Our calls to decision makers:


  • First aid education should be mandatory in schools across the UK in order to teach a generation this life-saving skill.
  • Government, schools, teachers, young people and others should champion first aid learning, integrating it into existing subjects and whole-school approaches.
  • We want the role that first aid education can play in building the resilience of individuals and communities to be fully recognised.
  • We believe that first aid education needs to be a clear feature of public health strategies on both a national and local level.
  • We believe that local authorities should work with us and others to ensure that the people who are the most vulnerable to a crisis and their family, friends and carers have the opportunity to learn first aid.


  • First aid education should be taught in all schools in Scotland; recognising the role it can play in supporting the experiences and outcomes of the Curriculum for Excellence.
  • First aid education should be recognised as as playing a key role in building the resilience of individuals and communities.


  • First aid education should be taught in all schools in Wales.
  • First aid education should be incorporated into the new school curriculum. 
  • We believe that first aid education needs to be a clear feature of public health strategies on both a national and local level.