HUNDREDS of 13 and 14-year-olds were taught how to give vital first aid to people affected by drugs or alcohol at a school event today (FRIDAY).

The first aid sessions showed 240 year 9 students at Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough the basic skills for all medical emergencies - but also covered how to handle situations involving drugs and alcohol.

It is the first time the skills have been taught to children as young as 13 by the St John Ambulance.

Assistant head Simon Carey said: "We already cover this issue with year 11s but feel a need to bring the subject down to younger students.

"Like with other areas, such as child sexual exploitation, the necessary age for discussion is getting lower. Our parents are in agreement that Year 9 is a good time to make them aware of the dangers."

Dave Edmondson, schools and community trainer for St John Ambulance, said: "It is general first-aid training but we also show them how to handle a situation involving drugs or alcohol. It's good for them to know not just from a first aid point of view but also really to teach them the pitfalls of using drugs or alcohol. It is so they are aware of the possible consequences."

For one year 9 student, Leona Carling, the first aid session was particularly poignant.

Just three weeks ago the 14-year-old - who had no first aid training - had to give lifesaving CPR to the girlfriend of a family member who had collapsed.

She said: "They phoned the ambulance and everyone started panicking. No-one knew what to do so while they were waiting for the ambulance we were listening to a paramedic on loudspeaker on the phone who was giving instructions."

Leona was calm enough to take over with the CPR, listening to the paramedic's instructions, and continue until the ambulance arrived. After treatment by paramedics, the woman fully recovered.

"They said I had helped them and that it was good I didn't panic," she said. "It's interesting to be learning today about what I should have done and if I'm ever in that situation again I'll know what to do."

The training at Trinity Catholic College by charity St John Ambulance forms part of the school's Citizenship Programme and also included drugs awareness workshops, run by Newton Aycliffe-based community support charity, DISC.

For more information about St John Ambulance and first aid training please visit