Canberra learner drivers to get free first-aid training and discounted hours after safety push by Senior Australian of the Year – ABC News


Canberra learner drivers to get free first-aid training and discounted hours after safety push by Senior Australian of the Year
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ACT learner drivers will soon be offered free first-aid training in a move spearheaded by the 2022 Senior Australian of the Year Valmai (Val) Dempsey. 
Ms Dempsey earned the top honour after dedicating more than 50 years to St John Ambulance in Canberra.
The 72-year-old has long campaigned for first aid to be taught to new road users, as she believes it will ensure the community has widespread literacy in potentially lifesaving skills. 
In her acceptance speech at the Australian of the Year awards ceremony, Ms Dempsey said her family was forever changed by a car accident three decades ago, where people came to help but did not know what to do.
"A very precious life was lost," she said.
"As a nation, we can rethink our approach to those critical minutes between life and death at a road accident. To make members of our community part of the solution.
"No other single measure has the potential to educate a generation to save lives like bystander first aid does."
She said she was emotional and "it hit home very hard" when she learned her vision would be supported by the ACT government.
Under the new scheme, announced today by the government, learner drivers will be offered a free 30-minute online first-aid course, which ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel said would provide them "basic first aid skills to respond to road injuries if they're the first on scene at a road traffic collision".
"This training won't just provide the skills that could save a life, it is a reminder to the next generation of drivers of the serious consequences that crashes have on our roads," he said.
As a further incentive, those who have completed the course will also get a five-hour reduction to their mandatory 100 hours of supervised driving. 
In a statement, the government said the optional scheme, which does not yet have an introduction date, would be evaluated to explore whether the first-aid training should become mandatory for all learner drivers. 
"This has been a long time coming," Ms Dempsey said. 
"I want to see every single person learning first aid."
The basic course announced for Canberra L-platers is centred around the letters: DRSABCD
Ms Dempsey said bystanders who attended a life-or-death event could become very frightened if they did not understand the acronym.
Ms Dempsey explained that 'd' was for danger and said people should check they were not putting themselves in harm's way by stepping in to help.
"Then, you can find out if the person will respond to you" by asking questions and seeing whether the victim can open their eyes or squeeze your hand, Ms Dempsey said.
Send for help was the next step, which could mean calling triple-0. 
Next, there should be checks to make sure the airways are clear. 
"Many people have passed away because of a blocked airway," Ms Dempsey said. 
"It's a simple process of adjusting the airway by tilting the head back in an unconscious, unresponsive person."
"It needs to be regular, good, deep breaths. We want more than 10 [breaths] per minute.
"If it's noisy breathing, noisy goes with blocked airways, so make sure you've got the head tilted and supported."
She said if they have an open airway, then "move immediately to starting compressions (CPR)."
"And find someone who can do it with you, because you do conk out a bit early if you're doing it well," she said.
"Lastly, make sure that a defibrillator is on its way."
Ms Dempsey said she was elated that Canberra's young drivers would have the option to learn some of the skills she has honed over half a century. 
She said all she wanted now was for the parents of learner drivers to "hang a first aid kit on the Christmas tree for them".
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