While emergency response plans are put in place to help both prevent incidents as well as ensuring organisations are better prepared to respond in the event of an incident occurring, it is likely that only some employees will have a good insight into these response procedures and evacuation plans. How the general public will respond to an emergency cannot be predicted, especially without an understanding of the hazards and specialist competency training that would be required.
However, now charities are calling for that gap in knowledge to be partially bridged, by making first aid compulsory in schools. The call has come in response to an inquiry by Lord Kerslake into last year's Manchester Arena terror attack, in which 22 people died.
His report found that even faced with 'genuinely harrowing circumstances', people were trying their best to help, however, just were not knowledgeable enough about the basics of first aid. Some, the report found, were even trying to apply tourniquets and use defibrillators without knowledge of how to do so effectively.
The government has said that it may be possible for all schools to teach first aid. Although this may seem like a good idea, it is a really difficult balancing act between public safety and the workload of teachers and support staff who would have to be trained in First Aid and medical response. It will increase the reach of people who can deliver basic first aid, but it is another task to add to their list of their responsibilities.
A spokeswoman for St John's Ambulance said the report showed greater learning of skills was required: “It is clear that the more people that learn first aid, the greater the chance of survival for casualties caught up in this type of atrocity,” she commented.
The British Red Cross and British Heart Foundation all support the idea, according to BBC News. The charities hope that first aid will become part of the national curriculum.
However, Lord Kerslake did express concern at 'overreliance' on the general public as first responders to emergency situations.