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TQUK got some exciting news...

Finally, First Aid training will be compulsory as part of the UK school curriculum – and we couldn’t be happier.

The Department of Education recently announced that school children will be required to learn First Aid under various proposals put forward by the government.

Draft legislation outlines how primary school children will be taught basic First Aid skills, such as dealing with head injuries and calling emergency services.

Secondary school students will learn life-saving skills like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Adding CPR to the curriculum in England will mark a defining moment in improving the UK’s shockingly low survival rates from cardiac arrests.”

The sudden onset of illness and injury, including cardiac arrest, is common. According to St. John Ambulance, around 140,000 people every year die in situations where their lives could have been saved if somebody had known First Aid. Learning First Aid gives people the skills to intervene and potentially save a life in these situations.

What makes this legislation such a great idea is that basic skills will become mandatory for all school students. This implementation of widespread training will ensure that as many people as possible have the right First Aid skills.

Who will be affected?

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The biggest beneficiaries of this legislation will be those who suffer from injury or illness.

Most European countries have ageing populations where incidents of cardiac arrest are becoming more frequent. Other hazards where First Aid could be useful include road accidents, increased incidences of heart disease, chemical and environmental hazards and domestic accidents.

But this legislation won’t just train the young to care for the old. It’ll also benefit young people themselves. The British Heart Foundation says that each year in the UK 400,000 people are injured in school, while 270 children die in the same environment as a result of cardiac arrest.

Those might seem like very troubling numbers – and they are – but the enthusiasm of students to learn First Aid may soon help the issues at hand. According to a survey conducted by the British Red Cross, 91% of students said they would like to learn First Aid in schools, and 83% of students would feel more confident helping those around them if they were taught First Aid.

What is First Aid?

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First Aid can refer to a large range of actions, but generally, it is defined as assistance given to any person suffering from an illness or injury, with sufficient care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening or to promote recovery.

It can include actions taken to deal with sudden illnesses or injuries related to:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Wounds and bleeding
  • Bone, joint and muscle injuries
  • The effects of hot and cold, such as dehydration and hypothermia
  • Foreign objects, poisoning, bites and stings

What is CPR? What is an AED?

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CPR and AEDs are common terms that most people associate with First Aid.

CPR is a lifesaving medical procedure which is given to someone who is in cardiac arrest. It uses chest compressions on the victim to help circulate blood and oxygen throughout their body. It is a temporary way to simulate the function of the heart and lungs.

CPR training has been responsible for saving many lives. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 45% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when bystander CPR was administered to them. CPR is one of the most effective and valuable First Aid skills you can learn.

An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses life-threatening cardiac arrest symptoms and treats them through the application of electricity to the patient, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm.

CPR is often used as a stop gap to keep the blood and oxygen flowing through the body until an AED can be used to restart the heart.

How do other countries compare in First Aid Training?

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For years, the UK lagged behind our European partners. Only 5 % of the UK population has the skills and confidence to carry out basic first aid in an emergency.  

This has a real impact on survival rates for cardiac arrest.

Ambulance response times to a cardiac arrest are 7 minutes on average. Sudden cardiac arrest survival rates drop by 10% for every minute that the victim does not receive CPR or AED treatment. And despite the incredible dedication and training of emergency medical services, less than one in ten victims survive to be discharged from hospital.

Every second counts when dealing with cardiac arrest. Having people nearby trained in CPR and AED use is critical to ensuring the survival of the causality.

Many other northern European countries have a more robust approach to training their populations in First Aid. The percentage of the population trained in First Aid practices is:

  • 95 % in Norway
  • 80 % in Germany
  • 80 % in Austria
  • 75 % in Iceland

Around 20% of European countries have compulsory First Aid in schools covering CPR and AED use, including France, Denmark and Norway.

Furthermore, 36 US states have passed legislation, curriculum content standards or frameworks that advocate for teaching CPR in schools. With this new legislation put into place, the UK will join their ranks.

A new beginning

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Andrew Walker, Managing Director of TQUK, said, “This move is long overdue, but we’re delighted the decision has finally been made.

“As an organisation with a long history of delivering First Aid qualifications, we like this decision. But we like it even more as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles that have children in schools.

“Figures from Europe show that compulsory First Aid training in schools helps increase the likelihood of bystander First Aid and survival rates for people suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. Together, we can help the whole country safer for everyone.”

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See you out there!