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Kids, CPR & first aid - Why bother?

Three junior high school kids were walking home one afternoon, joking, tripping and shoving each other into bushes when they noticed an elderly lady drop in her garden. Their giggles were quickly replaced by anxiety and the realisation that there was nobody else around to help. Without mobile phones back in the day, a frantic run between the front doors of other aged neighbors occurred (who were too fearful of our chaotic noise to emerge or let them in to phone 000), so all that was left for them to do was return to the unconscious, lady and start CPR.

The old lady died from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and all efforts were useless... but she was given a slim chance by a bunch of kids - who knew very little.

Now over 30 years later, my mates Jeff, Brenton and I have never forgotten that day. Apart from the wonder and guilt I felt - "Could I have done anything better?" the strongest feeling was the fact that I did all I could and without the training provided to me years earlier in primary school, we would have run the other way.

Those who've known me over the last decade or so, know of my interest in training kids to provide help if they stumble across a sick or injured person. I have always taken opportunities as a Paramedic or just a Dad, to show adults and children small but effective techniques to build their confidence in helping unconscious, sick or injured people. Things like effective chest compressions, clearing an airway, controlling a dangerous bleed, placing an unconscious person in the recovery position, or just reassurance - each is a life-saving technique that they will never forget.

Now as I watch my children grow I feel the importance of this issue grow with them. With a son in his early teen years and another 2 kids approaching fast, it has become obvious to me that as parents, we should ask ourselves, "What do we hope or expect our children to do for someone needing help?" and "Is there anything more I can do as a parent to prepare them for life?"

Wouldn't all parents hope their child could help someone in need, even if it's only one their own?

It could make all the difference - Life or Death.

Looking around now at some of the young people in the community, I wonder - how many of these kids would be willing and confident enough to help? I watch many videoing assaults like it's entertainment but which of them could be swayed to help? Any? Many? All? Without training and a healthy dose of empathetic understanding, probably NONE. Granted, there are many young surf life savers, guards, scouts, and other groups who do some amazing work training and assisting those in need, but they are a very small percentage of kids in general. Why isn't this something that is more entrenched in the psyche of parents, teachers and adults alike? Something seen as important as Maths, English or IT studies. And why has social violence escalated to where it seems very little value is now place on a human life? Many theories float around but at the end of the day, ACTION must happen to change this slowly spiraling problem.

My vision is that the more children who are raised to understand the positive benefits of CPR and first aid training will not consider instances such as bullying, 'Single Punch' or multi-offender attacks as an option, due to their enhanced understanding of how easy it is to lose or compromise a life, and rather than worry about the negative peer acceptance being sought by some corners of the teen community, they choose to help or dissuade potential offenders from carrying out or continuing such assaults. All this whilst recognising the potential hazards or risks i.e. attack or injury themselves and putting themselves in better positions of safety to respond and return home from parties or nightclubs safe and well.

Photo: Oliver Dixon

Studies from around the developed world are revealing that it is not only a good idea, but looking more like a necessity, that CPR and focused first aid education should be provided to as many in the community as possible. Not just those who are employed in roles that have the increased risk of encountering casualties i.e. security, health staff, care workers, etc. but all who are able to, ESPECIALLY CHILDREN! I believe early recognition of these issues facing children and the range of choices at their disposal, whilst appreciating the actual potentials of the risks involved with responding in these situations, will provide a better direction for young people to go forward and embrace a more harmonious existence among their peers and various social settings.

So whether it's a sporting event, a date with their partner, a birthday party, or maybe just going to the beach for the day.... wouldn't you feel safer knowing your loved ones are more prepared to make it home again? I know every parent does. Let's do a bit more to make it happen then. Thanks!


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