Should First Aid training be mandatory?
Britain’s roads are some of the safest roads in Europe and indeed the world. Thankfully, the number of road casualties has steadily decreased over the years from 3,201 in 2003 to 1,732 in 2015, despite a small 1.6% increase in the total number of road vehicle traffic between 2014 and 2015. These stats, although encouraging can always be improved. Whether it be through more comprehensive safe driving schemes, to an improved speeding awareness campaign.
Although there exist several external factors which effect the number of road casualties per annum, such as the weather, the makeup of road users (cyclists, new drivers, elderly drivers) and more importantly the distance travelled per journey.
All these can affect the number of road traffic incidents per year. However, when you get down to the nitty gritty, most road accident deaths occur within a few minutes of the incident, between the time it takes for the services to be alerted, and said services to arrive. Which leads you to consider the impact of public First Aid knowledge as a contributing factor.
A report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that 50% of serious road accident casualties may have been saved if Emergency First Aid had been administered. In fact, the chances of survival can be doubled or even quadrupled in some cases, if Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is performed within the first few minutes of a casualty. The International Coalition of Red Crescent Societies suggests that if pressure is not applied to the wound of a person with severe bleeding, even the most sophisticated emergency service will arrive on the scene, only to certify a death. However, most British people are far too uneasy with approaching a casualty, let alone on the roadside, and this is primarily due to an obvious lack of knowledge and confidence.
First Aid Training serves to calm these nerves and prepare people for any potential life threatening scenario that they may encounter, be it on the road, on the tube, or at home. However, in comparison to many of our European counterparts, the British are clearly slacking. The Norwegians lead the pack with 95% of its population trained in First Aid. Compare this to the tiny 5% of the British Public which is trained in First Aid, and it becomes evident that we have our work cut out for us.
So, what can be done to change this and bring about the positive effects that can help British society?
Well in many countries like France, Austria, Germany and Norway, it is obligatory to complete at least several hours of First Aid Training to even be eligible to sit a driving theory test. This makes complete sense, having road users trained to deliver First Aid confidently and effectively can mean all the difference between life and death in a lot of scenarios, both on roadways and in other scenarios. These countries have used the inclination to attain a driving license to their advantage by ensuring all prospective drivers are fully trained in First Aid.
However, why start so late? Why not have First Aid training become a part of the curriculum taught in schools. After all, this would ensure that most children and young adults can save lives if need be. They would also have many more years to practice and perfect their skills during their time in education, so they could be ready to deal with any scenario should they find themselves dealing with an emergency.
So why is this not a thing? Although a bill was proposed in 2015 to introduce Emergency First Aid Training as part of the new school curriculum. The bill failed to gain government support at the time due to fear of producing an over prescribed school curriculum. Worryingly, the movement to get first aid taught in schools lost momentum. However, the recent Terror attack on London has raised the issue to the limelight once more, and MPs are keen to see First Aid training become an important aspect of education. Images of MP Tobias Elwood desperately performing CPR, shun a light on the importance of First Aid. Liz McInnes MP has urged the Prime Minister to reconsider the previous government standpoint and open the case for First Aid in schools. Whether this will create change within the national curriculum remains to be seen.
Siren Training has encouraged both Liz McInnes and Tobias Elwood to continue their fight to introduce First Aid training within schools. If we can play a role in introducing life saving training for the next generation, what a mark to leave on the world. We all have the opportunity to improve the lives of others for the better. Please continue to fight for the underdog and leave your mark on this great country in the best possible way.
Siren Training are going to be introducing Free first aid training for kids in our local community. Schools based near Islington are encouraged to email Duray@sirentraining.co.uk to register their interest.