Never too young to start learning the skills that can save a life
AS MANY people die in situations where first aid could have helped save their lives as die from cancer.
This the hard-hitting message in St John Ambulance's latest campaign to highlight the importance of first aid.
You are never too young to start learning basic first aid skills that can, in some instances, literally mean the difference between life and death.
As the children who attend a St John Ambulance (SJA) unit at Brough can testify, you can be as young as 5 but be equally capable of making a potentially lifesaving 999 call as applying a plaster (enquiring first, of course, whether the patient could be allergic to the adhesive).
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Brough SJA Cadets, who aged from 11, are on duty this week, with adult members, at Hull Fair, helping to make sure that fairgoers have someone experienced to turn to should they sustain an injury or feel unwell.
Paul Hardy is the SJA divisional officer at Brough and in charge of the Cadet section, which is for 10 to 16-year-olds.
"I've been a member of SJA for 12 years," said Paul, who helped launched the Brough unit, which meets weekly at Brough Primary School, three years ago to meet demand for such a facility in the area.
"Brough is the fifth district I have worked in.
"The main reason why I wanted to become a leader was I helped to save someone's life when I was 16," said Paul.
"It was on one of my SJA duties at Blackburn Rovers Football Club and someone had a heart attack.
"I helped give CPR. I didn't have time to think about being scared or anything, the adrenalin takes over and you just get on with it."
Paul said: "One thing we like people to know is we don't always save people's lives – you won't always be able to bring someone back.
"But if you can think to yourself that you have helped in some way – even if it's by calling an ambulance or shouting for help – it is better than standing there helpless."
Wendy Sennett, divisional Badger leader at Brough, said: "I was previously a leader in Beavers, Cubs and Scouts for ten years and became involved in St John Ambulance in 2009.
"I was asked to start a 'Sett' – which is what we call the groups for Badgers – in Brough so I started helping a neighbouring Sett for a few months to learn the ropes.
"Paul and I launched the Brough Sett in September 2009 and children from all three local primary schools were invited to attend. I'm pleased to say we had 16 Badgers join us that year."
Badgers are aged 5 to 10 years and have 15 badges to gain, which they work towards as a group. After six to eight weeks, Badgers complete their membership award – they make their Badger promise, get a uniform and their "Welcome Paw".
Wendy said: "There are more awards to gain as they go along and earn more badges, but it's all great fun and the children really love their badges and awards – they learn at the same time as having fun.
"Our other activities include attending district camps, competing in first aid competitions, Badger of the Year competitions, attending Remembrance Day parades, carol services and annual Badger Christmas events, to name just a few.
"In fact, two of our Badgers won the district first aid competition after only being with us for six months and came fourth at the 2010 regional finals – and I'm very proud to say they are now part of Paul's Cadets group."
According to SJA, up to 140,000 people die each year in situations where first aid could have helped save their lives.
The charity is urging more people to engage in first aid training and has already aired a 60-second film during some high-profile ITV1 shows to get the message over.
The film follows the journey of a man who is diagnosed with cancer, undergoes treatment and survives – only to die as a result of choking at a family gathering because no one knows the basic first aid that could have saved his life.
This latest campaign comes on the back of new research from SJA showing people in Hull are going to great lengths to improve their chances against cancer, with more than half (51 per cent) making changes to their diet, almost half (47 per cent) not smoking and a third (33 per cent) increasing the amount of exercise they do. However, when it comes to first aid, it is a very different story, with fewer than one in five (18 per cent) knowing even the most basic first aid skills.
Sue Killen, SJA chief executive, said: "In situations where first aid could help save a life we don't have to feel helpless, because learning life saving skills is so simple."