Don't walk away

The 'Don't Walk Away' Campaign is an awareness campaign aimed at young people.

It includes a Poster, First Aid Advice "When Dont Walk Away
things go wrong" and a DVD. It raises awareness and teaches youngsters about the dangers of alcohol and what they should do in an emergency situation.

Six years ago Steve started to notice the increase in the number of unconscious 11 to 13 year olds he was picking up in his ambulance. One Friday night in particular he had 3 unconscious 11 to 13 year olds in the ambulance from one small town and they had got their alcohol from 3 different places. Then on another night in the same town, he was called to a 12 year old who had been abandoned by his so called 'friends' and had become unconscious. This young person was in danger of choking on their own vomit as alcohol in one so young is a poison which means they are more likely to vomit. He was left lying on his back and alcohol can cause hypothermia (a cooling down of the body). Only because a lady was out walking her dog was the young person found.

On investigation, it seemed that First Aid is not taught in most schools and young people become frightened and panic when their friends become unconscious. They don't know the recovery position and they don't want to get into trouble by phoning 999. So Steve set about the campaign in his spare time with backing from his employers, North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. He designed the poster and had a professional photographer who he knew shoot it for him. He sent the poster, accompanied by a letter to the Prime Minister stating that he had a national problem on his hands and as a result of that, Steve was asked by the Head of the NHS Alcohol Policy Unit to write the First Aid Advice for the nation. This he titled 'When things go wrong'.

The key objectives of the project are:

  1. Raise awareness amongst teenagers of the dangers of alcohol and choking/hypothermia
  2. Give advice to teenagers about the need to send for an ambulance and the importance of the recovery position.

Steve is attacking a national problem by getting his messages across a wide spectrum of different media. He is raising awareness amongst young people while they are at an age where they can make a difference and this can only help the national binge drinking problem that the nation faces. No other campaign with messages aimed at teenagers like this has received such good feedback and both local and national attention.

What were the outcomes and how were they measured?

The campaign started out with one poster, featuring his niece lying comatose and props from a local off licence. The campaign has now gone international, with a group in South Africa taking it up, as well as multimedia in the form of DVDs for schools. Derek Twigg, the Labour MP for Halton, is also a Patron.

Steve goes into schools and youth groups and has distributed more than 12,000 posters, paid for by various Rotary clubs, among others. Steve's advice and posters also feature on numerous other websites such as the Department of Health (, Connexions Cheshire & Warrington (, Sussex Ambulance (, and Teachernet ( TV shows including Eastenders, Coronation Street, Casualty, Doctors, Holby City, The Bill, Byker Grove and Grange Hill have agreed to display Steves posters on noticeboards in their programmes. Steve has accompanied police officers on their beat to hand out information to young people.

Steve has managed to get the campaign on GMTV, Granada News, BBC North West Tonight, Radio Merseyside, Premier Radio and Radio 5 Victoria Derbyshire's show, further raising the campaign's awareness and it's messages.

He has been guest speaker at the following national events: Understanding Underage and Binge Drinking, Responsible Drinking Forum UNISON National Ambulance Service Conference and Rotary International North West Conference. In June 2006, Steve also ran several workshops at the Young People and Alcohol Conference in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

The four Police services in Wales (text has been translated into Welsh) have adopted the campaign as their summer campaign and Merseyside Police, Nottinghamshire Council and Cheshire Police.

When things go wrong

Sometimes a drinking session gets out of hand. Young people can become intoxicated quite quickly, even to the point of slipping into unconsciousness. Their friends may feel frightened about the situation, but there are some basic steps you should take.

Here is some first aid advice for young people. Steve says:-

  1. Don't panic, the Ambulance Service is there to help you in this situation.
  2. Clear the casualty's airway of vomit by finger sweeping if necessary.
  3. Make sure the casualty is breathing by looking, listening and feeling for movement of the chest or abdomen, if they are not breathing then you need to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  4. If the casualty is breathing then you need to clear the area of broken glass so that you do not roll them on to it.
  5. Having done this you need to roll the casualty into the recovery position, that is on to their side so that they can still breathe. If you roll them right over then they will not be able to breathe properly, as their own body weight will stop them from breathing.
  6. This is the time to send or phone for the Ambulance by dialling 999, giving the exact location of the casualty. It will help the Ambulance crew if you send somebody to meet them and guide them to the casualty.
  7. You should try and keep the casualty warm as a side effect of too much alcohol is hypothermia.
  8. Keep checking that the casualty has a clear airway and is still breathing properly until the Ambulance arrives.

By following these simple steps you may save the life of a friend. Do not worry about getting into trouble by getting involved, because we are more interested in saving lives than telling people off.


Podcast on Alcohol Policy UK