Call for school first aid lessons


If someone collapsed in the street, would anyone in your family have the CPR or first aid skills to save them?

Many would say no, so Dunedin secondary schools are endorsing a call from St John, to make CPR and first aid lessons a compulsory part of the New Zealand school curriculum.

Otago Secondary Principals’ Association chairwoman and Bayfield High School principal Judith Forbes said quite a large number of secondary school pupils had already completed comprehensive first aid training courses, but she welcomed the idea of making it compulsory for all pupils.

“Being trained and able to offer first aid is a life skill which all students should have access to – [it is] certainly a way of making all our communities safer for everybody.”

She said first aid courses were already being provided to many Bayfield High School pupils doing Gateway courses, those applying for teaching or nursing or other career pathways where it would be particularly beneficial, and some were doing it as part of the Young New Zealanders Challenge programme (formerly Duke of Edinburgh Awards).

“In addition to this, all our year 12 outdoor education students complete the more in-depth First Aid in an Outdoor Setting course.”

Some pupils were also sent to do public courses during the weekend or holidays, funded by the school through the Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource.

“It would be great to have all students able to complete their first aid training at school, if St John were able to offer this.

“Obviously, our questions would be: what costs would be involved . . . who would pay for it, and would the courses be at full First Aid Certificate level which gives NCEA credits and a suitable level of qualification for entry into employment?

“We would certainly prefer good comprehensive training for students, and would generally prefer to see this aimed at year 11-13 students rather than year 9-10 students.”

St John continues to advocate for CPR and life-saving first aid skills to be included in the school curriculum, lining up with the Labour Government’s School Leavers’ Toolkit policy, whereby every school-leaver will graduate with a basic first aid education.

Recently, the United Kingdom Government announced first aid training would be compulsory in state-funded schools by 2020.

St John New Zealand community health services director Sarah Manley said she wanted a similar standard set for our schools.

St John began a pilot programme to teach life-saving CPR to year 9 and 10 pupils at Christchurch Boys’ High School this week.

“More than 4000 students from nine Christchurch high schools have already committed to participating in the programme.

“These [schools] include Burnside High School, Cashmere High School and Haeata Community Campus in Aranui.”

Ms Manley said the goal was to engage the Ministry of Education and other relevant organisations, to discuss how to integrate first aid training into the school curriculum.

“We want our children to have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency while building the community resilience of the next generation.”

St John Christchurch area executive manager Craig Stockdale said the pilot was established by the St John Christchurch area committee, in a bid to make the city “the most survivable New Zealand city for cardiac arrest”.