Just last night I burnt my hand on the hob whilst making my dinner. Instinctively I turned on the cold water tap and put my hand under the running water for 10 minutes. It wasn’t a serious burn and I got to enjoy my pasta-carbonara. Though it did make me wonder whether my instinct to run the burn under cold water was born of first aid training or if everyone would know to do the same?
Our research shows that only 5% of people in Ireland are trained in first aid. Coupled with statistics that shows accidental burns, falls and poisoning are among the leading causes of deaths and injuries in Ireland for children aged 0-14 years old and that 55% of deaths of young children and adolescents resulting from injuries could have been prevented, this is a worryingly low number of first aiders.
If only 5% of our population know first aid then that’s 1 person in every 20. To put that into perspective; the average class room in Ireland has up to 30 pupils and 1 teacher, the average double-decker bus holds up to 70 passengers and has 1 driver, and 1 residential cul-de-sac of 20 homes can boast up to 100 residents…but how many first aiders?
Though the teacher or bus driver might be responsible for the overall safety and wellbeing of the pupils and passengers, that’s no guarantee that they would know what to do if an injury or illness should present itself.
With 95% of its population trained in first aid, Norway is the leading country in Europe for first aiders, followed by Germany and Austria (80%). The difference between Ireland and Norway and other countries with a high percentage score is that they have laws that make it compulsory either at school, at the workplace or even when applying for a driving licence.
Compulsory training helps build communities that are less vulnerable and more resilient to the various risks to which they are exposed. Having to do first aid training to get a driving licence has been compulsory in Austria since 1973, while in Norway, children learn basic first aid techniques at school. The Hungarian Red Cross has been authorized by the government to train future drivers first aid skills otherwise the drivers do not get their driving license. The fact that about 55% of European countries have decided to make first aid training compulsory for a driving licence and that 70% – including Ireland – have already done so at the workplace is encouraging.
But is it enough?
Research figures are from First Aid for a Safer Future and the 2009 Child Safety Alliance report.
First aid figures for countries are based on the countries that took part in the Red Cross Red Crescent survey