Scouting skills: young lifesavers


13th Bebington (St Barnabas) Scout Group have just received some potentially life-saving new equipment for their community. 

Learning first aid has long been a staple of Scouting. From Baden-Powell’s day, where the first badges featured wobbly, hand-sewn red crosses on a khaki background, to the present day Emergency Aid Staged Activity Badge, Scouts have always loved learning skills that could help them save a life.

But not many Groups get the chance to really put their skills into action. 13th Bebington (St Barnabas) Scout Group, in Merseyside, are different. A new piece of equipment, mounted to the outside of their meeting place, could mean the difference between a member of the community living or dying, thanks to the training the Scouts have received.

‘I applied for the defibrillator back in November,’ explains Assistant Beaver Scout Leader Melissa Roberts. As a nurse, she is aware of how vital this piece of kit can be in a critical situation. According to the British Heart Foundation, medical professionals perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on around 30,000 cardiac arrest patients in the UK each year – but, shockingly, fewer than 1 in 10 victims survive.

Survival is far more likely when bystanders start CPR before the emergency services arrive. In Norway, CPR is taught to children at school, and, in 75% of cases, bystanders will start CPR, compared to only around 40% in the UK. 1 in 4 people survive cardiac arrest in Norway.

‘There is a massive community here,’ Melissa explains of the complex of buildings where the Scout HQ is situated. ‘Around 100 kids come here for Scouting each week, plus there’s the Church, the Village Centre, a café, and, of course, all the parents who bring their young people to our Group. We’ve got the defibrillator for anyone who may need it.’


Mayor of The Wirral, Cllr Pat Hackett, visited the Scout Group

The defibrillator cost around £1700 in total, and was donated by The British Heart Foundation, along with training materials, including DVDs and practice CPR dummies. The Group has been busy training young people and members of the public to use their new piece of equipment.

‘I’ve trained 19 Scouts. I’d only taught adults before, but they couldn’t wait to have a go,’ Melissa says. ‘They learned effective CPR and the recovery position to go alongside using the defibrillator. We have access to training defibrillators that are similar to the real thing – they give you feedback while you’re performing CPR.’

As well as training the Scouts, Melissa also plans to run further sessions for both of the Group’s Cub Packs, for parents and members of the community, and other Scout Groups in the District. 

‘I definitely think other Groups should look into having them,’ Melissa says. ‘Scout HQs are often tucked away off the road, and if there aren’t many people passing by or phone reception isn’t good, having a defibrillator could save a life. If someone collapses with cardiac arrest, you can feel panicked, especially if it’s someone you know. But you’re more likely to take charge if you’ve had recent training.’

The community of Bromborough is now well served by the members of their Scout Group, who are trained and ready to take action in the event of an emergency. The skills they have learned, thanks to the British Heart Foundation, could help them save numerous lives in the future.

You can apply for a free defibrillator from British Heart Foundation by filling in an online form. Teach your Scouts the basics of first aid with the Emergency Aid Staged Activity Badge, supported by Care.

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