British public to be given knife, bomb and shooting first aid training for terror attacks
Independent, UK: Members of the public will be trained to treat victims of terror attacks in the aftermath of incidents, under a nationwide programme launched by the police, The Independent can reveal.
With security sources continuing to warn of an unprecedented threat, the first aid courses will focus on wounds caused by bombings, shootings and knife attacks.
Defence minister Tobias Ellwood, who attempted to save the life of the police officer killed in last year’s Westminster attack, this week called for members of the public to “step forward” during incidents. Police chiefs still want anyone caught up in terror attacks to run and hide from danger first, and stressed people are not being asked to put themselves at risk and should only help victims when they are already in a safe place.
A senior officer at the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) said the training was not in response to any specific threat, but part of work to give “appropriate advice to every level of society”.
Asked why the first aid courses are being launched, Superintendent Adam Thomson, the deputy national coordinator for protect and prepare strategies, told The Independent: “The primary reason we exist is to keep the public safe, either by putting in measures before, or after, attacks that will save lives.
“Run, Hide, Tell counters the greatest risk from the kind of attacks that intelligence indicates we could experience, and what we have experienced in the last 18 months.
“The next thing that saves life once you’re safe, would be to use appropriate first aid.”
Safety protocol for UK emergency services dictates that if there is a threat, only armed officers wearing protection would be able to enter the scene of a terror attack, meaning first aid knowledge among the public could become vital. In the immediate aftermath of the Manchester bombing, incorrect reports of a marauding gunman meant paramedics should not have been allowed to treat victims in the arena’s foyer, but a police officer overrode official guidance.
Now, a first aid programme drawn up by St John’s Ambulance has been adapted specifically for explosions, knife attacks, shootings, acid attacks and chemical incidents.
It includes instructions on how to move casualties and stem bleeding from wounds, and how to assess whether injured people are breathing or conscious. People receiving the training will be shown how to prioritise who they help, and put anyone unconscious in the recovery position until the emergency services arrive.
Supt Thomson said St John Ambulance had “narrowed down the spectrum [of potential injuries] to the likely impact from a number of types of terror attack, and used the best application of first aid within each of the scenarios”.
“We now have that product available, how we incorporate that into our campaigns is what we’re working on now,” he added.
“Our message is very clear – people need to be safe before they take any other action.”
The training has been under development for several years, and follows similar teaching given to 11 to 16-year-olds in schools across the UK as part of the ACT for Youth programme.