StreetDoctors empowers young people to become lifesavers

Young people looking at the StreetDoctors app on a tablet

Young people across Merseyside are being invited to make an appointment with the StreetDoctors app to keep themselves and others safe against knife crime.

Launched by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), the new app is a fully interactive, non-judgemental, and trauma-informed bitesize course offering crucial advice for 11-25-year-olds if they see someone bleeding or unconscious.

Developed by medics and road-tested by young people including Rhys, Maud, Lizzie, and Brooke from the Moreton Youth Space (see close of story for caption), the accredited app asks participants a series of questions on issues such as loss of blood at a crime scene and offers potentially life-saving advice on what to do.

It also focuses on debunking some of the common myths around knife crime.

With figures showing that nearly half of Merseyside youngsters think knife carriers only become criminals when they use a blade (1), they will also be reminded that possessing an offensive weapon can lead to four years in jail.

The campaign will also highlight that young people who carry a knife, even for their own protection, are more likely to be stabbed than anyone else.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Sadly, we have seen far too many times, the heart-breaking consequences of knife crime on our communities.

“Our priority must be on preventing these tragedies from taking place. Emergency first aid in those crucial minutes after a stabbing has the power to save lives.

“But equipping our young people with the skills to intervene if they ever find themselves in such a crisis isn’t just practical – it’s also preventative.

“Through the launch of the StreetDoctors app in Merseyside, we are focused on making sure they understand the real-life consequences of picking up a blade, while also empowering them to become potential lifesavers.

“While my profound wish is that they will never need to use these skills, it could make the difference between life and death.”

With new stats showing that 83% of young people want to help at emergency situations, the MVRP believes it could be “pushing at an open door” in the battle to create young active bystanders (2).

The MVRP has a long-standing commitment to turning young people into both ambassadors to warn others of the consequences of serious violence and educate them in what to do in terms of treating injury and reporting that crime.

Temporary Head of the MVRP, Superintendent Georgie Garvey, said: “We want to give young people the skills to prevent serious violence and be part of the solution.

“Our research shows there are still myths widely held by young people about knife crime that need challenging if we are to keep them safe.

“One of those is that carrying a knife offers some kind of protection. It absolutely doesn’t – in fact, holding a blade just makes a young person more likely to use that weapon.

“We also need to be absolutely clear, there is no such thing as a ‘warning’ when it comes to knives - any stab wound can prove fatal. It takes on average eight minutes for an ambulance to arrive to the scene of stabbing. Using this training, a young person could save a life in that time.”

One of those, a care home in Wirral, proudly displayed the app to OFSTED inspectors, prior to a highly successful inspection.

Their manager said: “One of the biggest positives it had was us being able to use different platforms to engage young people, for example one young person was able to navigate the app themselves with ease, showcasing their own knowledge proudly! Another young person needed some additional support from staff, so we decided to project it on to the lounge TV navigate through the programme over several sessions.”

The app, which is also set to be launched in Greater Manchester by Mayor Andy Burnham in June, has been purposefully put together to stimulate debate and discussion.

Pictured left to right, are Superintendent Georgie Garvey (Temporary Head of the MVRP), Brooke Bowdley, Lizzie McCoughlan, Emily Spurrell (Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner), Maud Norman and Rhys Bowdley.