The first few minutes after someone has an accident are crucial. Interventions, before emergency responders arrive, can save lives and prevent serious harm.
But the vast majority of adults — around 95%, according to a survey by Red Cross — don’t feel as if they have the skills or confidence to take action. The tendency for people to crowd around without helping is so common that it even has its own term, the ‘bystander effect’.
The Red Cross is committed to tackling this problem by hosting as many first aid courses as possible. In Belgium, the charity trains 39,000 people in the French-speaking part of the country alone every year.
Yet according to Agata Bonsignore, head of the charity’s first aid unit for the Belgian branch, the figure is “still insufficient”.
“We are looking for solutions to increase the accessibility of training courses to ‘saving actions’ so that in every home in Belgium at least one person knows the first aid gestures.”
Which is why the organisation has partnered with two-wheeled food delivery company Deliveroo, known for its speedy bicycle couriers that continually whip from restaurant to residents or office spaces. These people are always outside, and always on the move — making them perfectly placed to identify the need for care and provide it immediately.
The Red Cross-Deliveroo partnership this month organised its first summer training session in Brussels. Between the Belgian capital and Ghent, a city 60km away, 100 riders have been trained — with the company announcing plans to double this number in the coming months, with new courses scheduled for Antwerp after the summer.
Riders that put themselves forwards go through a two-hour course where they learn a mixture of practical and theoretical skills to help save individuals whilst they’re waiting for the ambulance.
These include steps to apply compression to severe wounds and bleeding, place people in the safety position if there’s been a loss of consciousness, unblock airways to prevent choking and resuscitate when there’s been a respiratory arrest.
In addition, the riders learn how to use a defibrillator — something present in many public spaces, but still little-known or used.
“We hope that riders will feel empowered to use these new skills if needed, which could make a real difference to people in the communities that we work in,” commented Rodolphe Van Nuffel, Head of Corporate Affairs at the delivery company.
“With so few people feeling confident enough to help in a situation where someone is injured, we’re delighted to be able to equip riders with the skills and knowledge that will serve them well in life and in their careers.”
Bonsignore added that Red Cross advocates for first aid training to be mandatory for all students in the curriculum, so Deliveroo’s initiative is “very pleasing” — “especially as its couriers are always in the field and can be the first witnesses accident, the first minutes are the most important to intervene with a victim before the arrival of the ambulance.”
The effort forms part of Deliveroo’s plans to train 10% of riders across the world. The training started in August 2018 in several big cities in the UK, including London and Glasgow, and has now spread to other countries.
Michael Acton Smith