Leading first aid charity St John Ambulance today revealed shocking new research showing more than half (51%) of parents in Yorkshire and the Humber lack the skills necessary to save their child in the event of a life-threatening accident.
To raise awareness and encourage more people to learn basic first aid skills, St John Ambulance has launched an emotive new TV advert from the award-winning director behind the John Lewis commercials, which will air on Monday 16 September during ITV’s Doc Martin.
In the advert, a boy and his father play in a garden as the mother seemingly looks on through the kitchen window. The boy climbs a high tree but a branch breaks and he falls to the ground. A shocked mother runs out of the kitchen as we hear that she is a St John Ambulance volunteer, with the first aid knowledge to save lives.
But as she reaches the garden, we realise she has no connection to the father and boy and has rushed out to take her washing in from the rain. Meanwhile in the empty park, the boy is unconscious with the dad screaming for help – as viewers are implored to find out how to save the boy.
Viewers are urged to visit www.sja.org.uk/savetheboy to learn the first aid needed to ensure he stays alive. These are the basic first steps required in any first aid emergency.
The research of 3,000 parents nationwide commissioned by St John Ambulance found that, faced with the same situation as the one in the advert, most parents in Yorkshire and the Humber would not know the correct way to help the boy. Despite seven out of 10 (74%) parents in the region claiming to know basic first aid, more than half of those surveyed (54%) said they would leave the boy until an ambulance arrived, which would not be the correct procedure.
The campaign was developed after research from St John Ambulance showed:
Nearly 1 in 5 parents (19%) in Yorkshire and the Humber don’t view knowing first aid as being important
63% of parents say knowing first aid skills would make them feel more prepared for parenthood
6 out of 10 parents (59%) say the thought of their child needing immediate first aid intervention makes them feel worried
100 parents said their child has had an accident that’s needed immediate first aid intervention whilst on holiday – but 40 of those parents lacked the skills to help their child
Simon Dunn, Regional Director, St John Ambulance North East said: ‘It’s devastating to find that approaching half of parents wouldn’t have the first aid confidence to save their own child’s life. And it’s not just parents. Nationally over two-fifths (41%) of people admit that it would take something as severe as the death of a loved one to make them learn first aid.
‘Unfortunately, our volunteers can’t be everywhere so we’ve developed an online experience to help more people be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. We don’t want anyone to be helpless in a first aid situation especially when learning life saving skills is so simple.’
The latest advert continues St John Ambulance’s hard-hitting new direction. Its last campaign Helpless compared a lack of first aid with cancer showing up to 140,000 people die each year in situations where first aid could have helped save their lives, which is as many as die from cancer.* The campaign ultimately encouraged tens of thousands of people to learn first aid and saved four lives.
Case study – South Yorkshire
A mum from Coal Aston, near Sheffield, who saved her son from choking, is urging other parents to equip themselves with some first aid skills, in the hope that they will know how to react in an emergency.
When Claire Gascoyne’s son Thomas, 3, started choking on a Doritos crisp, Claire immediately sprang into action. Placing Thomas over her knee, Claire delivered two back blows to clear the obstruction. After the second back blow the crisp came out. Claire had attended a St John Ambulance first aid course only the day before.
Speaking about the incident, the 39-year-old Mum said: ‘We had covered choking the day before on the first aid course so I instantly knew what I had to do to help Thomas.
‘My husband had panicked and wanted to give him a glass of water but I knew that I needed to act quickly to clear the obstruction. I am so glad that I had done the first aid course and that I knew what to do – without it the situation could have ended very differently.’
Case Study – the Humber
The importance of first aid skills was brought into focus for Rosie Kirk during her second year as member of Hull University’s first aid volunteer group, LINKS.
Trained in first aid to advanced level, Rosie was called to the university union’s nightclub, where a 19-year-old boy lay unconscious.
She said: “An ambulance was on its way and we called for an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). During brief intervals of consciousness, the casualty told us he had already had two heart attacks and extensive heart surgery for a condition.
“He’d started getting severe, crushing chest pain so we got him to take an aspirin. Luckily the ambulance arrived in less than 10 minutes – but had his heart stopped and he needed CPR or the use of an AED, we had the skills to do it.
“It was probably the longest few minutes of my life. Nobody ever wants to be in a position where they can’t help someone who needs them.”
Case Study – West Yorkshire
A West Yorkshire family had a lucky escape thanks to first aid skills learned by one of the children only days earlier.
Cherie Briggs of Bingley was eating a homemade dinner of chicken, rice and peas with her nine-year-old son Kayne and toddler Red when she began to choke. Unable to draw breath, she looked at Kayne, got down on her knees and pointed to her back.
Seeing his Mum in distress, Kayne began hitting her back between the shoulders to try and free whatever was blocking her airway – without success.
As Cherie, 38, began to panic, Kayne put his arms around his Mum from behind and pulled his fist upwards into her abdomen – getting a pea to fly out and his Mum to breathe again.
He had learnt this life-saving skill – also known as the Heimlich Manoeuvre – only a few days before at a West Yorkshire Police summer camp.
Kayne said: “I patted Mum on the back first and then I squeezed her belly twice and the pea fell out. If I hadn’t learnt that on Monday, I wouldn’t have a mummy.”
Cherie added: “It’s hard to believe a pea could do that, but it’s the way the food gets lodged. Kayne’s strength came from nowhere and when he did his manoeuvre, I thought ‘what’s he doing?’
“I’m going on a first aid course – everybody should, it’s so important. We may think we’d know what to do, but we might not. He saved my life.”