An easy road to reduce deaths in traffic

St John Ambulance Australia, in collaboration with 2022 Senior Australian of the Year Val Dempsey, is calling on first aid training to be a compulsory prerequisite to obtaining a driver’s licence in Australia.

“Every year on our roads around 1,200 Australians are killed and 44,000 are seriously injured”, St John Ambulance Australia CEO Brendan Maher notes.

“We know that bystander first-aid reduces pre-hospital deaths and severe injury in the time it takes emergency services to arrive at the scene.”

Brendan Maher, CEO St John Ambulance Australia

Nevertheless, Australia has one of the lowest rates of first aid training in the world. Less than five per cent of people are equipped to handle an emergency situation, according to a 2017 Red Cross study.

Free e-learning for learner drivers

Road First Aid

After a traffic accident, the first 3 to 5 minutes are critical for life-preserving actions. Even in the shortest ambulance response time, without immediate first aid, a person with a blocked airway – the single cause of an estimated 85% of pre-hospital traffic deaths – won’t survive.

To bring awareness to the issue, St John Australia launched a free Driver First Aid e-learning course in November. This resource teaches basic first aid interventions in alignment with the DRSABCD model. It takes 30-45 minutes to complete and is targeted at young people – but available to anyone.

St John calls for mandatory first aid training

Road First Aid

The official launch at Parliament House, Canberra was attended by The Governor General the Honourable David Hurley, and other political representatives. Also attending was lifelong St John volunteer Val Dempsey, 2022 Senior Australian of the Year for her tireless commitment to promoting and delivering first aid training. Val is using her platform to advocate a simple solution to save more lives. This is a personal mission for Val, whose family was forever changed decades ago when bystanders came to help at the scene of her daughter’s car accident but didn’t have the lifesaving first aid skills needed. A life was tragically lost.

Val Dempsey and St John Ambulance Australia call for first aid to become a pre-requisite for obtaining a driver’s licence across Australia. According to Car finance company Zuto, only 15 countries include mandatory first aid training for learner drivers (2020).

“St John Ambulance is calling for a nation-wide, evidence-based approach to post-crash management that will equip an entire generation of bystanders with first aid skills to reduce deaths and severe injury on our roads. We’re confident our free first aid e-learning tool will help young people save lives if they find themselves in a critical situation,” Brendan Maher says.