If we consider what the aspects of first aid are, then it’s possible for any age of a child to do something, even if that is alerting the emergency services in the first place. Soon as they recognise that a parent or a sibling or anybody that they are with at the time has become ill, raising the alarm and getting the appropriate level of care to that patient is vitally important. In terms of doing CPR, then clearly there is a physical limitation and we have also got to consider the psychological aspect of a child doing something as aggressive or invasive as CPR. There are other things that children can do that make a big difference and that could be something as straightforward as stopping bleeding, it may be putting somebody into the recovery position to protect the patient’s airway should they vomit and all these measures can make a difference between life and death.
I think if you look at the Denmark model where they have taught kids in junior schools and infant schools right through to university, the survival rate out there now is as high as 25% for cardiac arrest and it’s no accident. I think it is because children pick up things fast, they learn well, they are like sponges, they adapt and by the time they actually get to an age where they can make a serious difference in first aid they are already acclimatized to it. They are not frightened. They are already prepared to do something because they have not had all the myths or the worries that we tend to get in the UK. So I think, yeah, I am a big advocate of teaching schoolchildren from a very early age just how to make the triple nine call. Small kids in the UK have already saved lots of lives just by being able to make a triple nine call and explain what they want over the phone. That is the first step, and it builds from there. And I think we are very bad in the UK at encouraging these kids to develop.
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