Assembly Members have backed proposals to ensure that all children get trained in life-saving skills – as part of their school education.
Suzy Davies, A regional Assembly Member for South Wales West, was the first to be selected to use a new debating mechanism – called Members’ Legislative Proposals (MLPs) – to bring forward the Bill.
The Bill addresses the fact that in Wales, around 8,000 people each year suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting. People who suffer cardiac arrest in Wales only have a 3 per cent chance of survival compared with 50 per cent in other parts of Europe, according to the charity Arrhythmia Alliance (A-A).
By making it a legal requirement for children to be trained in lifesaving skills such as CPR and the use of defibrillators, Ms Davies believes that children and young people grow up with the knowledge and confidence to help save the lives of people who might otherwise die – skills they can continue to use and develop into adulthood.
Under the Bill, children will also be trained to treat bleeding, choking and unconsciousness.
Ensuring that there are enough defibrillators in public spaces and that people receive emergency life support refresher courses throughout their lives are other facets that are central to the Bill.
Across Wales, there are 1,939 defibrillators, according to Welsh Ambulance Trust figures.
“Unfortunately, there are not enough people in Wales with the skills or confidence to give victims the best chance of survival during those first few critical minutes,” said Ms Davies.
“Growing demand for ambulance services means that responses to emergency situations are often delayed. If we equip children and young people with basic emergency life support (ELS) skills, their on-the-spot treatment could make the difference between life and death.
“I am pleased that I was able to persuade fellow Assembly Members that there is a real opportunity here to cultivate a new generation of confident lifesavers across Wales who can help support the work of the emergency services and save families from the ultimate heartache.”
Speaking before the debate, Keith Dunn, chief executive, St John Cymru Wales, said: “St John Cymru Wales supports Ms Davies’ proposal to increase the provision of life saving skills and defibrillators in local communities. First aid is a vital life skill, but unfortunately too many people in Wales wouldn’t know what to do in an emergency situation.
“With greater understanding and resources we can help ensure that people have the right training, equipment and confidence to save a life when it’s needed most.”
Following the debate, Ms Davies added: “The Welsh Government has been sent a clear message from all corners of the Assembly on this one.
“I hope that in the future we will see them acting to bring legislation through, in one form or another, so that Wales really can become a nation of life savers.”