The SHIELD Seal — a Nudge to Improve Help in Critical Situations
Imagine you are entering a bank.
All you want to do is to book off some money for the day, and everything is just like always. But suddenly your chest feels constrict, you have a shortage of breath, and burning pain is beaming through your body. You are panicking, you start to sweat and fall because your legs are too weak to hold you. Just before passing out, you see the shadows of other customers that rise above your body and disappear again, leaving you helpless.
This is what a person must have felt before dying in a bank in Essen because no person around was willing to help and just ignored him1). Each day, people die in accidents, of which at least 5 – 10% could have survived if people had offered help, according to the ADAC2). The unwillingness to help is a known problem in academic and aid agency circles. The so-called bystander effect, which includes the forbearance of providing basic medical assistance, is well-studied. People feel either too busy to engage in the situation, are also hesitant to help in fear of doing something wrong, are unaware of the importance of the situation or are afraid of being the first to act (acting outside of the group behaviour)3).
The increasing disregard for people in need of first aid is extremely alarming, putting the lives of many potentially on the line, but there still is a simple way of raising awareness and know-how of the general public that is beneficial to everyone‘s survival in emergency situations: bringing first aid training into the school curriculum.
This concept, while not being new, has had a practically fatal flaw: It was completely voluntary and optional resulting in a general lack of perception by teaching institutions. So while emergency services like the DRK, Malteser, die Johanniter and the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund did provide mostly free courses for schools to book, said institutions hardly made use of the existing offers. In countries where there is legal obligation to perform said courses, however – namely the Scandinavian regions – this approach had an astonishingly positive impact on first aid survival statistics and the people’s general awareness of critical situations and their knowledge of how to respond4).
As forcing German schools to offer these courses by law is simply less beneficial due to a possible backlash and most importantly not being the focus of our YES! task, we came up with another way to provide schools with an incentive to take the aid agencies‘ offers: the SHIELD seal (Schüler helfen in ernsten Lagen direkt) is a seal for high schools that book these courses on a regular basis, with a minimum of 2 programs in secondary school. Our solution gives an institution that offers these courses, the right to promote themselves with our badge, just like they do with other initiatives like Europa schools, sports schools or the Berufswahlpass initiative, to maintain a high number of students.
That way, schools have the incentive and the platform to effortlessly organise courses and society benefits from the public awareness when needed. This solution, by being completely optional for the schools, is non-intrusive in terms of the school‘s rights and really easy to implement due to the small number of legal steps required.
We think that by permuting this voluntary system in which everyone can benefit from the positive outcome will highly increase the participation rates of said programs and in turn raise the awareness and willingness to help in emergency situations, so that none gets left lying on the floor ever again.
1) Polizei Essen, 2017
2) ADACsignale Ausgabe 26 (2005)
3) Johanniter Unfall-Hilfe e.V. (2015)
4) Reisch, L. A. & Sunstein, C.R. (2016). Do Europeans like nudges? Judgment and decision making, Vol.11, No. 4. (CC-BY-3.0)
Photo: (c) Team Carl-Maria-von Weber Gymnasium Eutin