Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s mission of saving lives is being extended to schools all over the county.
Following a six month pilot scheme which involved schoolchildren being taught lifesaving skills, the charity has made its Emergency Awareness Training (EAT) program permanent.
The EAT program is an interactive training session for children at primary and secondary schools and the subjects range from carrying out CPR, making a 999 call, putting an injured person in the recovery position, helping someone who is choking and controlling bleeding.
Richard Miller, Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s clinical services and ground base manager, said, “We’ve been overwhelmed at the response by schools to our Emergency Awareness Training program and are really pleased that it will continue.
“It is our ambition to teach every school age child in Wiltshire how to deliver CPR and other emergency skills. Our program is a really valuable outreach project delivering vital lifesaving skills. We hope that in the event of a medical emergency the children who we train will have the knowledge and confidence to respond accordingly and ultimately their actions may help to save lives.”
In the pilot scheme, which took place in the first half of this year, 6,153 children from 74 schools took part. More than 5,500 children were trained to carry out CPR while in excess of 4,944 children were taught how to make a 999 call. More than 3,600 children learned how to help someone who was choking, while 2,286 were taught the recovery position and just over 500 were taught how to control bleeding. All received a certificate of attendance from Wiltshire Air Ambulance.
The schools who took part were in all areas of Wiltshire, including Calne, Chippenham, Devizes, Marlborough, Melksham, Salisbury, Swindon and Trowbridge.
The EAT program has received grants from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme to buy 14 training manikins and from the Malmesbury League of Friends to fund equipment including four additional manikins and three anti-choking training devices.
Paramedic Simon Stigwood was involved in the pilot scheme and will continue to deliver the program, supported by volunteers.
Simon, who has joined the charity as emergency awareness training officer and has been a paramedic in Wiltshire for 15 years, said, “It’s rewarding engaging with young people and they have enjoyed learning new skills that are about preserving life and promoting recovery. We tailor the sessions to different age groups and needs of the schools.
“When we talk about making a 999 call we play a real call made by a nine-year-old boy and we also talk about hoax calls and why they shouldn’t be made. We’ve got a new video that will be played when we train children to do hands-only CPR. It features paramedics, doctors and one of our pilots doing CPR on manikins. For Key Stage 1 pupils we’ll play it to the tune of Baby Shark and for older pupils we’ll use the Stayin’ Alive song.
"Many of the schools who have taken part have gone on to fundraise for Wiltshire Air Ambulance which we are so grateful for.”
One of the schools who took part in the pilot scheme was Frogwell Primary School, Chippenham, and teacher Alex Hopkins said, “The Emergency Awareness Training program was a really valuable session for our children. It was really good to reinforce how to ring 999 in an emergency.”
Pupils Amber, Georgia and Elisha, of Frogwell Primary School, said: “We enjoyed learning how to do CPR and the recovery position.”