Over half of kids (60%) are powerless to help someone who has collapsed in the street despite three quarters (73%) wanting to be able to help, our new survey results reveal.

Working with Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK), we’re calling on the Government to change the National Curriculum in England to ensure all students are taught Emergency Life Support (ELS) skills which would help save a life.

The survey also revealed overwhelming support from both teachers and parents for children learning ELS. More than 4 in 5 teachers (86%) believe it should be taught at school and 70% of parents agree.

This is about giving students the skills that make a difference in an emergency

Maura Gillespie, our Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “Teaching young people how to save a life is as important as learning to read and write. They are skills which equip them for real situations they might face in their lives.

“This Government wants the Big Society to empower people to take action in their communities and help others. Making these skills part of the National Curriculum in England would be a simple way of turning that vision into a reality.”

We’re calling on the Government to include ELS in England’s new National Curriculum. It can be taught within a range of lessons including Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) lessons along with Physical Education, Citizenship and Science.

ELS skills include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which can help someone who’s had a cardiac arrest, and how to deal with an unconscious person, serious bleeding, choking and heart attacks. Latest figures show that in 2007 around 100,000 people had a heart attack in England.

Christopher Boylan, 17, from Merseyside, performed CPR on his mum Hilary when she suddenly had a cardiac arrest last year. Christopher said: “My mum Hilary collapsed without warning. “My sister Francesca found her on the bedroom floor and she was unconscious and not breathing normally. I learnt ELS skills at Scouts and Cadets so I called 999 straight away. I performed chest compressions until the ambulance crew arrived and took over. “It was an awful situation to be in but I’m grateful I knew the skills to help save my mum’s life.”

Maura added: “This is about giving students the skills that make a difference in an emergency. ELS skills take just two hours to learn. Two hours, repeated each year until they leave school, to equip every young person with the gift of knowing how to save a life.”

Every second counts

Thirty thousand people each year in the UK have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital and nearly half of these are witnessed by members of the public. Less than one in ten victims survive to be discharged from hospital. With each minute that passes before defibrillation, the chances of survival are reduced by about ten per cent.

Dr. Andrew Lockey from RCUK said: “More than 600,000 children are set to leave secondary school this summer, that’s over half a million pairs of hands to help save someone’s life. Feeling helpless when a person goes into cardiac arrest is an agonising situation.

“A ten minute delay between suffering a cardiac arrest and using a defibrillator could be the difference between life and death. Performing CPR offers a lifeline when every second counts.”

Our Heartstart scheme has already trained 2.6 million people across the UK in ELS skills. It’s asking parents, teachers and kids to sign a petition to make ELS a compulsory part of the National Curriculum in England.

Source – British Heart Foundation