The Festive season is one of the busiest for A&E departments with more than 80,000 injuries, pushing the monthly average number of accidents in the UK to its highest level - in some cases, these result in death.
Instant first aid intervention might prevent some of these -- and would certainly reduce the severity of the injuries, but the chances are that anyone present when the accident occurred wouldn't have a clue about what to do. In fact, it is estimated that that as many as 140,000 lives might be saved each year if someone with the necessary training was able to offer instant first aid.
The UK is one of the lowest-ranking countries in Europe when it comes to knowledge on how to administer first aid. This compares extremely unfavourably with the 80% of people in Germany and Scandinavia who possess first aid skills as a direct result of first aid training being an integral part of both the school curriculum and vehicle driving test.
Some schools are able to offer first aid training outside of the curriculum, and one of those is Werneth Primary School in Oldham. They have been training their pupils for 5 years in first aid skills, and last year 3 of the students used their knowledge to save lives by preventing family members from choking.
12 year old Maisha Rahman helped her sister Sanya (now 8 years old) when she was choking:
"Me and my sister were at my grandmas and we eating ice lollies that were really hard. She began to run around the room and I stopped her and patted her back three times, did the up thrust and eventually the ice lolly came out"
Work is also being done in the House of Commons to remedy this situation, with the All Party Parliamentary Group for First Aid. The APPG's key focus is practical - offering free first aid training to MPs. It is hoped this will encourage people in their constituencies and around the country to follow their lead. The APPG will also aim to find the most effective way to ensure as many people as possible have the skills to save a life.
Duncan Cantor from Boehringer Ingelheim, the sponsor of the All Party Group for First Aid, said:
"First aid organisations such as St John Ambulance and the Red Cross have a vital role to play in reducing the number of unnecessary deaths due to a lack of first aid. We want to see a far greater access to first aid training for both children and adults alike. By raising the profile of first aid with MPs, we hope they will take the message that first aid training can save lives directly into their constituencies and, by doing this, take the first important step in ensuring we become a nation of life savers."