Recently, the British government announced that first aid training would be compulsory in state-funded schools by 2020.
“Our counterparts in England, St John Ambulance, were part of the coalition which campaigned for this and similarly, we want a standard to be set for New Zealand schools,” says Sarah Manley, St John Director of Community Health Services.
St John advocates for CPR and lifesaving first aid skills to be taught and included in the national school curriculum, lining up with the Labour Government’s “School Leavers’ Toolkit” policy, whereby every school leaver will graduate with basic first aid education.
Today St John announced a pilot programme to teach lifesaving CPR to year nine and year 10 students in Christchurch, beginning today, at Christchurch Boys’ High School. More than 4,000 students from nine Christchurch high schools have already committed to participating in the programme; these include Burnside High School, Cashmere High School and Haeata Community Campus in Aranui.
The pilot is being spearheaded by the St John Area Committee for Christchurch, which is aiming to be the “most survivable New Zealand city for cardiac arrest”.
“It has been proven that early intervention with CPR on someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest greatly improves their chances of survival and we want to arm our young people with the skills necessary to help save lives until an emergency ambulance arrives on the scene,” says Craig Stockdale, St John Christchurch Area Executive Manager.
Since 2015, St John has partnered with ASB and ACC, to deliver the ASB St John in Schools programme – a first aid course for pre-school, primary, intermediate and Kohanga Reo around the country – but there is currently no compulsory requirement for New Zealand schools to book this course.
“Our goal is to engage the Ministry of Education and other relevant organisations to discuss how to integrate first aid training into the school curriculum because we believe it is important for every child in New Zealand to have lifesaving skills,” says Ms Manley.
“We want our children to have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency while building the community resilience of the next generation.”