Fourteen-year-old Eilidh Simpson, and her brother Fraser, who’s sixteen, started volunteering with St John Scotland last year.
The siblings share the ambition to become doctors, and decided to sign up as CPR trainers to gain experience and an insight into working in healthcare.
Although it had been a few years since they first learned how to perform CPR, after a quick refresher from St John Scotland trainers, the pair soon felt confident enough to deliver the training themselves.
Since then, they’ve helped out at several training sessions in and around Glasgow, and between them helped dozens of people learn CPR.
And at their most recent training event, at the Gorbals Fair in Glasgow on Saturday, they were able to teach CPR to some very special guests!
“The events are really good fun, you never quite know who’s going to walk through the door next,” said Eilidh – as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon popped by to learn CPR.
The brother and sister also got to meet comedian and broadcaster Des Clarke, Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Eva Bolander, and MP for Glasgow Central, Alison Thewliss, who all stopped by the fair.
As well as the chance to meet celebrities, Fraser said that through volunteering, he’s learned skills that will stand him in good stead in his chosen career: “I was never the most confident of people and was often very shy, and realised that if I was to become a doctor, I would have to get rid of that!
“Being a volunteer CPR trainer has encouraged me to speak out more, if I need to ask questions or need any help. I now feel more comfortable talking to people.”
Eilidh says it’s been useful practise for learning how to work with a variety of people, something she’ll face when she starts her studies in medicine: “I have trained people of all ages - young children and teenagers, to older people. Communication is key – especially when you’re training people, you need to be able to break down important points and explain things clearly.”
The pair say that meeting other St John Scotland volunteers, some of whom are trained paramedics and nurses, or community first responders, has given them the added benefit of being able to learn more about what it’s like to work in different branches of medicine.
On top of the personal rewards they’ve gained from volunteering, the siblings are glad to have the chance to share their passion for helping people learn CPR.
Fraser says: “Being trained in CPR is so valuable. If you ever need to use it, you’ll be able to keep someone alive long enough for proper medical attention to arrive, and before you know it, you’ve helped saved someone’s life.” Eilidh agrees: “I think everyone should know how to do CPR!”
St John Scotland is part of Save a Life for Scotland, the partnership working together to train 500,000 in CPR people by 2020, helping to save an extra 1,000 lives. Our volunteers organise training events and drop-in sessions across the country, to help more members of the public learn the skill.
The Greenfaulds High students manage to fit volunteering with St John Scotland around their school work and other commitments – Fraser has been gaining work experience in a hospital and by shadowing a GP, while both the teens are active in organising Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.
They say they’d encourage other people, young or old, to get involved as CPR trainers with St John Scotland: “Get your name down!” urges Fraser. “With the variety of people you meet and skills you’ll develop, it will honestly change your life. You will be making a huge difference to other people’s lives, and you might get to meet some celebrities!”