Source: The Mandurah Mail

A WORRYING three quarters of Australian schools would not know what to do in the case of a health emergency, a national report has revealed.

First Aid Readiness in the Australian Workplace – a St John Ambulance report – was conducted in March this year and tested schools in three categories: first aid training courses, workplace resources and drills and procedures.

Results showed only 21.5 per cent of staff working in primary and secondary schools were trained to a current and satisfactory standard.

Mandurah’s Living Waters Lutheran College principal Andrew Kelly said he was shocked to hear that so few staff knew life-saving skills and said he thought first aid certification was a prerequisite for the job.

“All of our 22 staff are trained in first aid, including the groundskeeper.

“I think all staff should know first aid training, it should definitely be mandatory.”

Mr Kelly said the school, which takes pupils from kindergarten to year 7, makes sure to budget for the training courses each year, as they don’t receive Government funding.

Dudley Park Primary School principal Aaron Thomas said his school had two designated first aid officers: a deputy principal and a youth support officer.

“There is no set number [of first aid trained staff] in schools, that’s up to the individual school,” Mr Thomas said.

A spokesperson from the state Department of Education said it was not mandatory for teaching staff to undertake first aid training and said it was down to the school to fund courses themselves.

“The Department requires schools to develop a plan to ensure that first aid can be provided,” the spokesperson said.

“The number of staff requiring first aid training is based on the risk assessment undertaken by the school.

“First aid training is funded by individual schools.”

State School Teachers Union of Western Australia president Anne Gisborne said she was amazed at the statistics and said it was the Government’s responsibility to keep on top of first aid training in every school.

“It is the Department of Education’s responsibility to make sure a school’s staff is prepared for emergencies,” Ms Gisborne said.

“But I don’t think first aid training for teachers should be mandatory.

“I don’t think that’s necessary, as long as there is someone on site who is trained.”

The report also assessed other industry sectors, including hospitality and retail.

WA fell significantly behind all other states, with a combined total of only 8.8 per cent of workplaces found to be first-aid ready.

St John Ambulance Australia chief executive, Peter LeCornu, said the results were alarming.

“Australian workplaces are in a volatile situation and the St John research shows that a serious first aid knowledge gap exists.”