As you may know already, I do some work with a charity called The Uncut Project. There is a small group of us that go along to schools to talk about knife crime. It is aimed at young people in secondary schools. Seam Simms is the Project Manager and does all the hard work in the background, then myself and Junior turn up on the day to take part in the assemblies with him.
The assemblies consist of a mix of approaches. Firstly, Sean does a quick quiz – to assess how aware the young people are about what to do in the event of being a witness to knife crime. Then we play a recording of a real 999 call involving a young lad fatally stabbed; we hear his distraught sister desperately trying to help him and the fantastic efforts of the ambulance call taker as she tries to help her cope and give first-aid advice. It is very distressing to listen to, however, it sets the tone for what lays ahead.
I then go on and talk about a call that I was involved in. I wear my work uniform as I say my piece, about a call out where I attended to a young person who had been fatally stabbed in the heart. I describe very honestly my thoughts and feelings while caring for someone in that awful situation.
After that, we show a DVD depicting a serious knife crime acted by a youth group - it is very emotional and I have to mention by now there are often more than a few a tears being discretely wiped away, and usually that includes the teaching staff.
Then we hear a talk from Junior, a young man who was stabbed in the heart last year; he stands up and bravely describes his experience of being a victim of stabbing and of how he was successfully resuscitated from cardiac arrest by the ambulance crew and hospital staff. He is an amazing young man and one can only admire his dedication as he continues to try to help others by sharing his experience in the hope that they will learn from it. He is a fine role model.
Finally Sean repeats the quiz to see if any of the messages have been taken on board – and the evidence is always a resounding YES. They all get the answers correct this time around.
Today however, I went along with the group to a school to do another of our assemblies, but this one didn’t go quite as planned. While Junior was doing his bit, as usual, you could have heard a pin drop as everyone listened, riveted to his story. But today, suddenly we noticed a different sound completely – the sound of snoring! How rude, I thought. But as I scanned the hall for the culprit I could see that it was coming from a young student sitting a couple of rows from the front, only by now she appeared to be unconscious and having a fit. Myself and a couple of the staff went over to her immediately and lifted her to the floor, putting her in the recovery position and thankfully she began to recover very quickly. Junior’s talk was temporarily halted during the commotion. As none of us were sure why she had a fit (as she had never had a fit before) an ambulance was called and she was checked out at hospital. I hear that she will be fine and is making a good recovery.
Once she was all sorted out Junior took to the stage again and finished his piece – to a huge round of applause! – the show must go on after all!
So a bit of real life drama when we least expected it – and just in case my boss is reading this – an award winning speedy response time from the ambulance service!