Student Paramedics tackle knife and drugs dangers in school

Issue date: 28 November 2008

Student Paramedic teaching the recovery position to young people Student paramedics from the University of the West of England have visited secondary and special schools to give first-aid skills training, utilising three real-life topics relevant to young peoples' everyday lives as part of an Aim Higher campaign.

The three strands of the campaign include; 'Cut it Out' - the dangers and consequences of carrying knives; 'Tackling drugs – Saving Lives' the consequences of taking drugs and what to do when things go wrong; 'Don't Walk away' the effects of using alcohol and what to do when things go wrong.

Student paramedics are ideally situated to deliver the health messages about the possible consequences of carrying knives and using drugs. The students provide good role-models and give advice to the young people to help them develop confidence about how to resist peer pressure.

Florence Brown Community School, a Bristol based special school that works successfully with young people who have a range of complex needs is the first school to take part. Forty 13-16 year olds took part in three workshop sessions over the course of a day. In the knives workshop they learned how to control bleeding and minimise shock; in the alcohol workshop they learned how to place each other in to the recovery position; and in the drugs workshop they learned rescue breathing and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

Student paramedic Ben Adamson said, “It was great to see how the young people engaged in all the activities, they especially liked using make-up for artificial wounds and the subsequent wound dressing”.

Paramedic Science Programme Leader Gary Smart said, “One of the aims of the 'Aim Higher' campaign is to provide positive role models, the students not only succeeded in this, but also provided valuable guidance to the young people”.

Kirsten Scott, Head of Key Stage 4 at the Florence Brown Community School, commented, “The pupils continue to talk about the visit, not only were the workshops immensely interesting and relevant to them, but they benefited from meeting a great bunch of UWE students who have positively reinforced their opinion of both the university and the emergency services”.

The campaign used animated video clips from SharpShotz, a charity which runs an annual animation competition for schools which aims to engage young people in tackling drugs and knife crime. The videos offer young people a sensitive, yet dramatic, introduction to what carrying knives or taking drugs can lead to.

Gary Smart concluded, “Paramedics can be called to knife crime victims and young people who have overdosed on drugs or alcohol, or had a bad reaction to illegal drug use. Sometimes these people can die because those around them do not know simple first-aid or run away for fear of getting in to trouble with the Police.

“In the sessions, the student paramedics acknowledge that some young people will choose to carry weapons and some will experiment with drugs and alcohol. Through teaching simple but effective first-aid skills in real-life scenarios, the campaign shows the young people the ultimate consequences of what can happen 'when things go wrong' empowering them with knowledge and skills to help them in difficult circumstances.”


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