An increasing number of parents, these days, need to leave their kids at home alone to attend to professional and personal duties. Therefore, teaching children the basics of first aid and how to handle an emergency is of great importance and, in fact, a necessity today.
“First aid training is important not just for children but for everybody. In an emergency, a health care provider is usually not around. The person at the scene is either a friend, family member or a passer-by. But it is very beneficial for kids to learn first aid at a young age so that they can grow up with the knowledge,” says Dr Madhu Purushothaman, Senior Consultant in Paediatrics, SRM Institutes for Medical Science, Chennai.
The most common emergencies can be simple cuts, abrasions, fainting and head injuries. If parents are familiar with the basics of handling such emergencies, they can impart that knowledge to their children based on their level of understanding. However, Dr Purushothaman believes that educating children in first aid is best done through schools. “For parents to impart this training, they themselves should be taught first and be assimilated into it,” he states. “It is a lot easier to go to schools and teach children as it is done in a much organised way. Children are also more receptive to learning when it is made a part of the school curriculum.”
Indeed, the requirement to make first aid training a compulsory part of school curriculum in Chennai has been highlighted time and again on different occasions. While many schools do have Red Cross as a subject, apart from theory lessons, children do not receive much practical training. Many schools, however, also have training programmes to introduce students to first aid. Schools like N K T National College of Education for Women, Adarsh Vidyalaya, Children Garden School, New College, Lady Sivaswami Iyer Girls' School, P S Senior Secondary School, Vidya Mandir, and Savitri Ammal Oriental School are some of the educational institutions that have sought to train their students through the course offered by St John Ambulance Association which follows a syllabus prescribed by the UK. This course spans over 16 hours and is imparted to students in standards 8 and 9. They are taught skills like CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) using mannequins as well as shown videos on how to handle choking, tie a bandage, apply a cold compress, etc.
According to Suriyanarayanan K J, trainer’s trainer, First Aid Training Course, St John Ambulance Association, Chennai, students do show considerable interest especially through reading books and browsing the Internet. Based on this observation, it will be beneficial to make this a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
Keeping children safe being a top priority for parents, it is essential that they get to know the basics of first aid and also ensure that their children are well-equipped to handle medical emergencies.