Study: Laws should mandate first aid training in Europe

Study: Laws should mandate first aid training in EuropeGeneva - There are wide gaps between European countries when it came to first aid education, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said Wednesday, pushing for laws which would make learning basic life saving techniques mandatory.

Governments should "have a more dynamic approach, by promoting the idea of compulsory first aid education, for example, in schools or when applying for a driving license," the federation said in a report entitled First Aid for a Safer Future: Focus on Europe.

The study found that 95 per cent of Norwegians were trained in first aid, leading the pack.

But in Spain, only 6 per cent knew the skills, while, in Britain, 5 per cent of the population was knowledgeable of life-saving techniques. In the Netherlands, only 2 per cent had training.

Germany and Austria tied for second place with 80 per cent, Iceland followed with 75, half of all Swedes knew first aid and 40 per cent of the French were trained.

In most of Eastern Europe the percentages were in the single digits and in some countries, like Estonia, less than 1 per cent of the population could administer first aid.

The IFRC said there was an "over-confidence" of populations in certain countries in their emergency services, leading people to think they do not need first aid training.

The countries with higher rates of training tended to be places were people were more self-reliant or community based, the study showed.

According to the IFRC, most deaths from accidents occur within the first minutes, before emergency services reach the scene.

"Having someone trained in first aid on the accident scene makes a real difference and saves lives," the report said.

"Investing in first aid not only saves lives," the study continued, "but is cost-effective," as it reduces the severity of injuries and need for expensive treatment.

Last year, the Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies gaves first aid classes to 3.5 million people in greater Europe. (dpa)

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