New research shows just 5% of adults have the skills and confidence to provide first aid in emergency situations

Three UK charities call on the government to make first aid a compulsory part of the school curriculum

Three of the UK’s largest charities are seeking public support for first aid to become a compulsory part of the school curriculum, following new research which shows more than nine in ten adults (95%) would not be able to save lives in first aid emergencies. (1)

The British Red Cross, St John Ambulance and the British Heart Foundation – who together form the Every Child A Lifesaver Coalition – are calling on people throughout England to take part in the Government’s call for evidence on Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education , and join their push for first aid skills to be taught in all schools.

Research, commissioned by the British Red Cross, asked more than 2,000 UK adults about their knowledge, confidence and willingness to intervene in three potentially life-threatening first aid emergencies – helping someone who is bleeding heavily, is unresponsive and breathing, or is unresponsive and not breathing.

The findings show the vital need to provide first aid lessons in schools to address the public’s lack of knowledge and confidence to step in during a first aid emergency. The research shows:

  • Only 1 in 20 (5%) people would feel knowledgeable, confident and willing to act in those three scenarios – 95% of people would not.
  • Seven in ten adults (71%) lack the knowledge and confidence to act if someone collapsed and was unresponsive and breathing.
  • Nearly seven in ten (69%) people polled lack the knowledge and confidence to act if someone was bleeding heavily.
  • In addition to these scenarios, eight in ten adults (81%) also said they lack the knowledge and confidence to act if a baby was choking. (1)

Further research by the British Heart Foundation showed that 60% of adults would be worried about knowing what to do if they witnessed someone having a cardiac arrest and only 20% of respondents were able to correctly identify the signs of a cardiac arrest (2).

Meanwhile, a survey by St John Ambulance shows that 80% of people feel that first aid lessons should be compulsory in all schools. (3)

But by making it compulsory for every child to receive just one hour of first aid education a year as part of PSHE, hundreds of thousands of young people could be empowered with the skills to save a life. Take part in the call for evidence by visiting

Joe Mulligan, Head of First Aid Education at the British Red Cross, said: “When an emergency strikes, giving first aid could save someone’s life.  We all hope that someone would be able to help us in an emergency, but our research shows that few people feel they have the skills and confidence to act in some serious situations.

“By taking part in the government’s call for evidence and making first aid a mandatory part of PSHE on the national curriculum, you could help us empower future generations with the simple but vital skills to save someone’s life in an emergency.”

The Every Child a Lifesaver Coalition is asking teachers, parents, young people, and anyone who feels passionately about getting first aid taught in schools, to take part in the call for evidence.

Carl Makins, Head of Training at St John Ambulance,  said: “Children attend school for more than 1,000 hours a year; we’re asking for just one hour of that curriculum for them to learn first aid skills that will last a lifetime and might one day enable them to be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.’

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “CPR really is the difference between life and death for thousands of people every year in the UK who suffer a cardiac arrest. Every second counts, so it is vital that school children across the UK are equipped with this simple, life-saving skill. It takes less than an hour to learn CPR, so dedicating just one PSHE lesson per year could create a generation of lifesavers.”

The government’s call for evidence Changes to the teaching of Sex and Relationship Education and PSHE closes on Monday 12th February 2018.

Take part in the call for evidence by visiting

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