Introduction: First aid training for lay people is recognised as an important capacity building component of pre-hospital care in communities. In countries such as Australia, this training is increasingly targeted to school children, but relatively little attention is directed to knowledge retention or optimal training methods for this population. This literature review aimed to determine whether the published literature demonstrates that first aid knowledge is retained by school children who have learnt first aid from professional first aid providers.
Methods: A search of the peer-reviewed and grey literature was conducted for narrative review. Journal articles were retrieved from three databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, ERIC) using the search terms ‘first aid’; ‘resuscitation’; ‘training’; ‘child*’; and ‘school’. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied and review findings organised thematically.
Results: The search yielded four primary studies of European school children aged 4–12 years trained by professional first aid providers. Subsequent review identified emergent themes of resuscitative first aid and non-resuscitative first aid. Heterogeneity was apparent in training and evaluation methods, and study quality varied. Reported first aid knowledge retention was mixed.
Conclusion: There is a lack of quality evidence to guide optimal training methods and maximise first aid knowledge retention in school children. To date, research in this area has been limited to Europe. Further research is therefore recommended. Formal evaluation of professional first aid training can help guide training methods and maximise first aid knowledge retention in school children, thereby building more robust first aid capacity in the community.