At last night’s Council meeting, I spoke about First Aid needed to be taught in schools, primary and secondary.
My speech is below:
Nationally over 600 young people die every year from sudden cardiac arrest with 270 these deaths happening in schools.
As we all know the school population, by its very nature, changes over a number of years. Staff as well as pupils move on so there is always a need for first aid together with CPR to be taught to that new generation of children.
It has been proved over and over again how very young children can make vital decisions in emergency situations – which surprise a lot of adults.
Two stories to tell you:
In Staffordshire, a group of six 15 year olds saved a pensioner who had a nasty fall outside a shopping centre. He had knocked himself unconscious and was bleeding. They had been on a first aid training course a few weeks earlier and they all felt that whilst they did panic, they knew what to do.
In West Yorkshire, a nine year old boy was having dinner with his mum and 19 month old brother when his mum starting choking. Mum pointed at her back and the young boy slapped her between the shoulder blades to try to force air out of her lungs to dislodge the food, but when this didn’t work, he didn’t hesitate and performed the emergency Heimlich manoeuvre. Fortunately, at the beginning of the week he had spent time learning about emergencies at a police summer camp.
There are many more stories of how first aid training can save people’s lives and those were just a couple of them.
But what happens if someone’s heart stops? People need to be able to perform CPR and use this in conjunction with first aid.
Heartstart Oldham started a programme called Hearstart Schools Programme in 2005 and covered 42% of schools within the first year and they continue to work closely with all schools within Oldham.
Every year, trainers go into Oldham Sixth Form College to teach the new cohort of pupils who are studying Health and Social Care within the Basic Life Support training.
At present Heartstart Oldham hold 30 to 40 training courses a year and the demand comes from the community and schools. They have also raised funds for Automated External Defibrillator.
The most update to information I have received is that as part of the Healthy Schools Project and Heartstart they have been into 34 schools and funded 24 Defibrillators.
These Defibs are easy to use – even people who have never seen or used one before can. They are not dangerous and an AED will not allow a shock to be given to someone unless they are in cardiac arrest.
After turning an AED on the user is guided at every step by voice prompts and some have visual displays for those with hearing problems.
Despite people’s concerns, nobody to date has been successfully sued for using an AED on a person in cardiac arrest – even in the USA.
Tragically, I know sometimes an incident happens and despite people’s best efforts, they are unable to revive a person.
Unfortunately, whilst I was Chair of Governors at Royton & Crompton School, a young man called Ashley Livesey, collapsed and died whilst on a cross country run. The teacher and I believe some pupils, did all they could to save him, but unfortunately nothing could be done. Ashley was one of the 600 people under the age of 35 in the UK who died of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome.
This was not only a tragedy for his family and friends, but he was a great loss to the school community. Because of what happened to Ashley, Gary and Julie, his Mum and Dad, as well as his twin sister Lucy, have raised funds for a Defibrillator in school.
I would personally like to praise them for all that they do and this is one of the reasons why I am moving this motion.
The Liberal Democrats nationally supported the proposals for First Aid to be taught in Primary and Secondary schools and want it to be included in the national curriculum through Personal, Social, Health, Education and Economic provision.
Sir Bob Russell, who is the Chair of the First Aid All Party Parliamentary Group, believes that by teaching these skills in schools we would have a million qualified First Aiders in a generation, which would then save countless lives.
So on that basis it would seem sensible that CPR and first aid training should be taught in schools. I know within Oldham some of this is happening already, but we would like the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Education and others urging them to introduce First Aid as part of the national curriculum.
As for the AEDs that I have mentioned, I hope that the Director of Public Health will be able to come back to Council with a positive report on the possibility of phased funding and training for happen in Oldham.
Action: Overview and Scrutiny would look into this.
For more information on Heartstart please contact John Ashworth – firstname.lastname@example.org