Primary Lessons in First Aid
Updated – 10 July 2023
Our children are indeed precious to us, from the minute they are born and placed in our hands. We want to do everything we can to protect and nurture them, to give them the best possible chance of living a happy and healthy life, from cradle to adulthood.
It’s no wonder we find a considerable number of parents worrying about illnesses and injuries befalling their children. Now that we are well into the new school term, it’s worth noting that an estimated 1 in 5 children will become sick or get injured as the year progresses.
The good news back then…
If you followed the news back in 2020, you might have read that the government were initiating a plan to make first aid training a compulsory part of the curriculum in England by 2020. That was fantastic news to a coalition called Every Child a Lifesaver – comprising the British Heart Foundation, St John Ambulance and British Red Cross – who have been campaigning for some time to see first aid be taught to school children.
According to the plans, from 2020, primary school pupils in England would be taught basic first aid, while those in secondary schools will be taught how to administer CPR as well as basic treatment for common injuries.
And the reality…
Unfortunately, on 20 November, the Bill didn’t pass through to the next stage of parliamentary scrutiny. Around 40 MPs showed to support first aid in schools, but the Government opposed making it mandatory for every pupil. Primary lessons in first aid now remain a distant memory.
It would have been great to know that school-age children would have learnt the basics of first aid and life-saving CPR. We would have had a generation of first responders whom we could have called upon in an emergency, improving the chances of saving thousands of lives. This naturally includes the lives of our children and generations following.
In the meantime, what can we do, as parents and school staff, to build up our skills to provide first-aid care to those who are precious to us?
Illnesses and emergencies that fill every parent with dread are things like asthma attacks, seizures, fevers, meningitis, diabetic emergencies, and allergies that can cause anaphylactic shock. If you have a child who is at risk of anaphylactic shock or a diabetic emergency, the chances are you already know how to deal with those situations. However, many millions do not have basic first-aid skills. Then some illnesses can strike without warning – like meningitis or seizures – and they can affect anyone. So it’s fair to say it would give us all comfort to know that every one of us was trained on what to do in such emergencies.
We can all do our bit
As with every emergency, it’s important to minimise the treatment response time to the casualty which will improve the chances of recovery. When responding to an emergency, the initial key step is to recognise what you’re dealing with.
Once the signs and symptoms have been identified, you can then take the necessary steps to perform first aid help. For every first aid situation, there are a set of steps that can be learned and administered by anyone, and they give the emergency services a head-start when called on to respond. In fact, emergency services may not be required at all if we can deal with a situation quickly and effectively enough.
That leaves our paramedics free to respond to other call-outs.
Say, for example, you encounter a diabetic emergency involving a casualty with low sugar. In that case, you would help the person to sit down and, if they have glucose gel with them, ensure it is administered. If they don’t, then offer the casualty something sugary like a fizzy drink, or sweets, and give reassurance the whole time. Only if the casualty didn’t respond to the treatment call 999 or 112 for further medical help.
Don’t let a lack of basic first-aid knowledge be a hindrance
Choking is another childhood incident that many parents fear. Stories of babies choking on grapes, breadsticks and small toys are such scenarios parents worry about. On the plus point, there are four simple but effective steps that can be taken by anyone witnessing a baby choking.
First, lay the baby face-down on your thigh with his/her head supported. Pat them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades up to five times. If this does not dislodge the blockage, administer five chest thrusts. Turn the baby over so they are facing upwards. Place two fingers in the middle of their chest just below the nipples. Push sharply downwards up to five times.
If the obstruction does not clear, call 999 or 112 for emergency help and continue with cycles of back blows and chest thrusts until the blockage is removed.
All for one, one for all
The steps in these scenarios can easily be absorbed and are simple to perform. Whether parents, teachers, caregivers or bystanders, we can achieve further peace of mind knowing that we have the skills needed to provide immediate first aid to our young ones.
If you want to learn more about recognising different illnesses and emergencies in babies and children, and how to administer first aid, then why not sign up for one of our Paediatric courses?