Tom’s first aid mission

Tom Wilkes from Ashton has been nominated for an award as a volunteer cadet peer educator for St John's Ambulance.
Tom Wilkes from Ashton has been nominated for an award as a volunteer cadet peer educator for St John's Ambulance.

A St Helens student is so keen to spread the word about the benefits first aid that he has taken it upon himself to pass on his skills to young people.

St John Ambulance volunteer Tom Wilkes regularly visits schools and youth groups to teach skills such as CPR and how to apply bandages - as well as passing on important information about conditions like epilepsy and asthma.

The 17-year-old Carmel College student was inspired to get involved with the charity after British Heart Foundation volunteers took a first aid course at his old school.

He said: “The thought of being able to save someone’s life by learning basic life-support skills got me hooked. I’m really passionate about the work of the St John Ambulance - it’s like the heartbeat of the local community, at football and rugby matches and community events.

“I was on the first national pilot which trained up young people as first aid educators in 2011 and I’ve been training other young people up ever since.

“I must have trained hundreds and hundreds of young people in the last three years. Some of the courses are just two hours long, but others are really in-depth three-day ones.”

Tom, who is studying biology and health and social care at Carmel, admits he was initially daunted about taking first aid classes in front of up to 60 people.

But now he’s a natural!

As well as teaching basic CPR techniques, he teaches how to cope with communication barriers and what to do if a patient has a particular medical condition.

The need for more people to learn life-saving skills was brought into sharp focus when Tom’s team was called to an incident in Manchester last year after a man suffered a massive heart attack.

He said: “Sadly, by the time we arrived the patient was blue so all we could do was try our best. If someone nearby had the skills we had then the outcome could have been very different.”

Tom hopes to become a full-time paramedic in the future.

He added: “Volunteering for the St John Ambulance is the perfect grounding for a career as a paramedic. My friends and family are very supportive too.”