What to do when disaster strikes;Reviews;Resources;Books

24th September 1999 at 01:00

Teacher's guide and classroom activities for key stage 2 resource pack pound;7.50 Can anyone in your school give cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? Do you have a trained first-aider? Are you breaking the law if not?

Given that there are 136,000 accidents a year in school playgrounds that require a hospital visit, adequate firstaid is vital.

At present, though, schools are categorised as "low-risk" places of work and, as such, the Health and Safety Commission recommends there need only be a first-aider for schools with between 50 and 100 staff. This rules out most primaries, where there may be only an "appointed person", who may not be able to render first aid but who looks after the first aid box and is responsible for summoning help.

The DfEE's Guidance of First Aid for Schools, 1998, recommends schools carry out a risk-assessment and act accordingly. It says, for instance, that lunch-time supervisors should have first aid training. But nothing in a teacher's conditions of employment obliges them to give first aid, so provision depends on volunteers.

St John Ambulance is launching a campaign to encourage at least one teacher to train as a first-aider in every school. The training is free and includes copies of the resources here.

The new Qualifications and Curriculum Authority draft proposals on PSHE and citizenship say pupils, too, should be taught "rules relating to health and safety issues, basic emergency procedures and where to get help and support" at key stage 2. The campaign aims to teach 500,000 children first aid over the next three years and to get it included in the national curriculum.

What is your school doing in this respect? St John publications include books, videos, posters, charts and CD-Roms, some for teachers and pupils. Emergency Aid in Schools is a useful staff reference book, clearly laid out with drawings and diagrams. Using examples of a range of situations - a pupil collapses during morning assembly, say - step-by-step techniques describe how to cope.

Young People's First Aid is a basic introduction for 10-year-olds and upwards. It is comprehensive, covering a wide range of topics, from breathing problems, to wounds and bleeding, burns and scalds and even how to give CPR. It is attractively presented with inviting colour photographs.

Both books are required reading for the Young Lifesaver Award (formerly the Three Cross Award), a three-part course for eight-year-olds and above. Preparation for this is video-based and has teacher's guides for key stages 2 and 3.

The video, described by St John as "fun and entertaining", actually is. Using short drama clips with simple, clear first aid messages, it takes young people through a variety of emergencies and shows what to do. Some of the sketches are funny, some are dramatic but all have a serious intent.

Emergencies include unconsciousness, choking, asthma, bleeding, fractures, burns and scalds, poisons, mouth-to-mouth and CPR. I especially liked the hiking expedition where the two teachers in charge both end up flat on their backs being tended, very capably, by the pupils.

In the course, sections of the video would be followed up with classroom activities. The teacher's guides contain lesson notes, illustrated worksheets, activities and test sheets. St John Ambulance recommends that anyone who wants to teach the Young Lifesaver course should be a teacher who has recently attended at least a basic four-hour first aid training course.

The Young Lifesaver course is particularly relevant to the GNVQ health and social care units. A Young Lifesaver Plus course builds on the skills gained on the basic course and is particularly suitable for the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Can your school afford not to be involved in something with the potential to save lives? And isn't it time for a mandatory requirement for trained first-aiders in every school?

Liz Swinden

These resources are available fromSt John Supplies, PO Box 707B, Friend Street, London EC1V 7NE,Tel: 0171 278 7888. For further information about the Young Lifesaver Award scheme and training for teachers, contact the training officer (schools), St John Ambulance HQ, 1 Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X 7EF. Tel: 0171 235 5231

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