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First Aid needs to be second nature to help us save lives

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 23, 2013

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MARK LAWRENCE: ONE story in particular caught my eye in last week's newspaper – and, for once, it wasn't on the sports pages.

It was the heartwarming tale of how butcher Jay Marks saved the life of pensioner Reginald Bayliss when he had collapsed in the street.

By giving Reginald CPR, Jay managed to keep him alive until the emergency services arrived.

One quote from Jay really struck a chord with me: "There needs to be a lot more awareness of CPR. It should be taught in schools."

I couldn't agree more – and the reason I feel so strongly about this brings me back to the subject of youth football which, after all, is what we are supposed to be writing about in this column.

Three years ago I took the FA Level One coaching qualification, which included a session on first aid. For not only are coaches supposed to be able to teach the boys how to bend it like Beckham, we are also supposed to know what to do when there is a medical emergency on the pitch (or on the touchline for that matter).

Just last Thursday it was time for a refresher as the first aid module has to be retaken every three years.

My club, Leckhampton Rovers, organised an evening session for those coaches who needed to brush up on their first aid skills.

Heaven forbid we ever have to use them, but the course is all about teaching you the basic skills to keep someone alive until the medical experts arrive – the very skills Jay used to save Reginald's life.

The trouble is of course that three years is a long time – I struggle to remember what I had for tea three days ago, never mind what I should be doing to put someone in the recovery position, or how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre.

For the next few weeks, the knowledge I picked up last Thursday will no doubt stay firmly in my mind. But six months down the line, will I still be as confident?

I pointed out to our instructor that three years is too long to go between sessions, and that an annual refresher would be of greater benefit. Just reminding yourself of the basics once a year – CPR, the recovery position etc – would be a great benefit to all of us.

Which brings me back to Jay's point – this should be taught in schools so that everyone has a basic knowledge of first aid that could potentially save someone's life.

Only by repetition does that knowledge become second nature – and you need to start at an early age so it becomes something you carry with you for the rest of your life.

And for those who left school many years ago (including myself!), I would thoroughly recommend going on a first aid course – you never know, it may just save someone's life one day.

BEN LAWRENCE: I agree with my dad (amazingly!). I am in Year 7 now, and the only first aid I have ever done at school is a one-off hour-long session in Year 6.

If we had a half hour on first aid at school every couple of weeks it would get stuck in our heads. I would like to learn it just in case.

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