KLANG, July 20 (Bernama) � The Malaysian government encourages everyone to learn first aid as it plays a very critical role in helping to sustain the lives of those who suffer from injuries, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

The prime minister said such assistance can be a crucial improvement to the medical outcome before medical help arrived and in numerous instances, it can also mean the difference between life and death.

Therefore, I would encourage all Malaysians to support and give your services to organisations such as St John Ambulance so that together we can really make a difference in our community and help those who are in need, he said at the St John Ambulance of Malaysia 111th anniversary grand banquet dinner here tonight.

Also present were Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and the chairman of St John Ambulance Council Malaysia, Datuk Lai See Ming.

Dr Mahathir, who is also the president of St John Ambulance Malaysia, said one of the significant contributions of St John Ambulance is their tireless effort in equipping Malaysians, especially the younger generation, with first aid and nursing care skills.

Through such effort, the young are trained in this life-saving skills and in this process, they too learn about leadership, teamwork, perseverance and relationship management which is very crucial in our nation-building.

In the end, these young volunteers will develop strong values of compassion, kindness and humility, he said, adding that he is delighted to note that St John Ambulance has been serving the people of this country for a truly amazing duration of 111 years.

He said it was great to see the progress made by St John Ambulance where on several occasions, he had the opportunity to meet many dedicated volunteers and learn about the good work that the organisation has carried out.

And more than a century of service is not something we will come by every day. It is indeed a remarkable milestone that not many others can emulate easily, he said.

At the ceremony, Dr Mahathir also launched the National Automated External Defibrillator (AED) programme which is intended to help reduce the number of death cases due to heart attack in public spaces.

St John Ambulance of Malaysia intends to place AED machines in public places in the Klang Valley and advocate awareness of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED education programmes, where it will teach local communities about the importance of learning CPR and the method of using AED machines to save lives.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir presented the competition challenge trophies for the 32nd Malaysia-Singapore First Aid and Nursing Competition and Asian Pacific Regional Youth First Aid Competition to the winners.

Source: Office of the Prime Minster Malaysia