Over half of children ‘would feel helpless to act if they saw someone injured’

The majority of children would feel “helpless” to act if they saw someone injured in an accident, new research suggests.

However, nearly a quarter of children (23%) polled in the British Red Cross survey said they had been in a situation where someone needed first aid.

The research is “concerning”, according to the charity, and shows that Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland should join England in making first aid lessons compulsory in schools.

Nine in 10 children said they would feel “more confident” to help in an emergency if they knew first aid, and 86% agreed that learning how to save a life is one of the most important things you could be taught at school.

Taxi driver first aid training
First aid lessons are set to become compulsory in English schools (Matt Alexander/PA)

A total of 62% of children polled said they would feel helpless to act if they saw someone who had been hurt in an accident, while 91% of parents of five to 18-year-olds support compulsory first aid lessons for pupils.

A separate British Red Cross survey found that up to 59% of deaths resulting from injury could be prevented if first aid had been given before medics arrive.

The charity polled 1,000 parents and 1,000 children as part of its research.

Thomas Nolan, a 14-year-old from Herne Bay in Kent – who helped to save the life of a man he saw collapse while waiting to catch a bus to school, said everyone should have the opportunity to learn first aid.

He added: “It gives you the ability to help out properly.

“Think about it, it could be your parents or grandparents.

“If you were stuck in a situation and didn’t know how to help – how would you feel?”

Education Secretary school visit
It is ‘fantastic’ that children are enthusiastic about first aid lessons, according to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (Ben Birchall/PA)

Responding to the survey, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it is “fantastic” that young people are enthusiastic about learning potentially lifesaving skills.

From 2020, the Government is rolling out plans to ensure all pupils in England have been taught basic first aid by the time they leave secondary school.

Youngsters will have to be taught how to administer CPR, the purpose of defibrillators and basic treatments for common injuries.

Toby Martlew, headteacher at the Ark Oval Primary Academy in Croydon, south London, said that part of a “well-rounded education” involves giving pupils “the confidence to act if they are faced with an emergency”.

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