William Schmid of Duffy Primary School practises his skills on Education and Training Minister Joy Burch, as Kym Schmid supervises. Photo: Jay Cronan
If a primary school student is ever in a situation where they could save someone's life, the most important skill they can have is confidence.
That was the key message at a launch of a St John Ambulance program in ACT's schools which aims to train 5000 children by the end of this year, and 15,000 by 2015.
The program, for years 3 and 5, is a free first aid education course, similar to one that has run in Western Australia for the past five years.
Program co-ordinator Kym Schmid said its aim was to normalise injuries and make children comfortable with providing first aid or getting help when needed.
"The more that you can make first aid and injury a normal, everyday part of life then the better they are going to react when they get injured," Dr Schmid said.
The program aims to remain simple and to help the students to understand what is within their abilities and when help is necessary.
"I point out that they are already good at first aid; they have all put on Band-Aids before, they have all reassured people before," Dr Schmid said.
"[Children] are amazingly capable and I think that a lot of adults forget that."
St John Ambulance ACT chief executive Christopher Ward said by starting training early, children were likely to retain and incorporate first aid into their lives.
"We try to make it a fun environment and give them confidence," Mr Ward said.
"Training is about the knowledge, but also about confidence.
''The way that we deliver it is to give them the confidence to use it."
The program, launched on Wednesday at Duffy Primary School, will be introduced into 50 ACT schools and will teach first aid for injuries that children are most likely to encounter, such as sprains, breaks, cuts and burns.
The pilot program at Duffy last year was successful, principal Kim Darcy said.
"The kids loved it. They talked about it … for weeks and months," Ms Darcy said.
"Some of the parents' feedback of children that participated last year was that the kids came home and were telling them things they didn't even know.
"They loved it so we always knew we would do it again."