One Year On: What Could Have Been


Just over a year ago, Conservative MPs blocked the Compulsory Emergency First Aid Education Bill to bring in compulsory First Aid training in schools. The bill was prevented from going further by ‘filibustering’ – a term used to describe when MPs talk non-stop until the time to discuss the bill and vote, runs out.

The debate was proposed by Labour’s Teresa Pearce and was backed by the British Heart Foundation, the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance. The bill was put forward in an effort to bring First Aid training into the National Curriculum, making it mandatory for children to learn life-skills whilst in school.

To honour the time which has passed since the disappointing result, we feel it’s time to consider what could have been if this bill was passed and implemented by parliament just over a year ago.

270 to 0

Every year, 270 children die in school due to cardiac arrest. The only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is effective CPR and a life-saving shock from a defibrillator. If these devices were readily available in schools, imagine how many children’s lives could be saved!

Conservative MP, Phillip Davies who has become somewhat famous for filibustering in Parliament believes that First Aid training in schools should be decided on a school by school basis and stated that children should be learning these skills in extra-curricular activities, such as Girl Scouts or Guides.

Defibshop Chief Executive , David Howarth said: ‘Whilst the National Curriculum is made up of various important topics, First Aid in schools will make the younger generations more aware on cardiac events, and help them understand what steps would need to be taken in order to assist confidently, in a medical emergency.’

According to the Department for Education, there are currently over 3 million children in secondary school here in the UK. This could mean a future of over 3 million life-savers, who have the life-saving knowledge of First Aid. This awareness would then be passed down to the next generation and the next, creating a large awareness of how to treat someone in need.  

A Generation of Life-Savers

As it stands, only 7% of the UK can perform basic First Aid to someone in medical emergency. This number, in our opinion, is too low and needs to change. Alongside this; a survey conducted by defibshop found that 92% of parents agree with our views in that defibrillators should be a mandatory piece of equipment in schools.

The positive impact adding First Aid to the National Curriculum is immeasurable. No one is immune from sudden cardiac arrest and so the more people who have the skills to save a life, the higher the survival chances.

By adding First Aid to the National Curriculum, the UK would:

  • Have more awareness on cardiac events, such as sudden cardiac arrest and know what action needs to be taken
  • Be less reliant on the already stretched Emergency Services
  • Acquire life-saving knowledge from a young age
  • Have the confidence to act using their skills
  • Have schools that are prepared and able to take action in an emergency situation

Oliver King

In memory of Oliver King, his family set up the Oliver King Foundation to campaign to have defibrillator access mandatory in all schools.

Oliver passed away aged 12 in 2011 after winning a swimming race at a school in Childwall. His family endured a 24-minute wait for an ambulance to arrive to deliver life-saving defibrillation due to the lack of equipment o school grounds.

This campaign has recently just passed its first Parliamentary hurdle and has the support of more than 350 MPs. We sincerely hope that this time round, a bill is created that is passed and implemented as law.

Your Opinion Matters  

It’s still sad to think that a bill which could have taught so many young people to save lives didn’t make it into law and it’s frightening to consider just how many lives could have potentially been saved because of the life-saving knowledge the bill would have provided.

Do you think the bill should have been backed and introduced to the National Curriculum first time round? How will you show your support to help bring First Aid into schools? Comment below or Tweet us @defibshop with your thoughts.

Comments (2)

  • As a mom of 4 & an OHCA (Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest) survivor at the age of 44 I know the importance of learning CPR, without this I would not be here today. In Copenhagen their survival rate is 60%greater than in the U.K. This is because all school children are taught CPR in schools. We need to ensure this happens ASAP. Not every child attends a club such as scouts/guides etc. I also believe every school & public place should have an AED ( Automated External Defibrillator). Only 1 in 10 people survive an OHCA in 2017 this needs to improve!

  • Hi Paula,

    Thank you so much for sharing your comment. We share your thoughts completely and hope we can help to make a difference in raising awareness to ultimately bring First Aid training into the National Curriculum.

    We hope you enjoy our content and we will continue to spread the word on the life-saving difference CPR and defibrillators can make!

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