Life-saving Skills in Schools

Part of Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 22nd November 2012.

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Photo of Andrew Smith Andrew Smith Labour, Oxford East 1:49 pm, 22nd November 2012

I warmly welcome this debate. I congratulate Anne Marie Morris and other hon.

Members on bringing this issue before the House, and commend all the newspaper and petitioning activity that led to that. It is not every motion before the House of which we can say it will save thousands of lives and cost very little, but that is precisely what this motion will do if the Government follow through on it, as the hon. Lady has been advocating. I wholeheartedly agree with everything she said about making it mandatory and with her demolition of all the arguments against it.

In the brief time allowed, I want to refer to a programme that originated 15 years ago at the John Radcliffe hospital in my constituency, which has been extended to nine other centres in the UK and emulated overseas in Hong Kong and Belarus. The injury minimisation programme for schools was, like most of the best ideas, very simple and obvious once someone was clever enough to think of it. The idea is that if we educate children in accident prevention and what to do when there is an accident, and at an age when they are old enough to understand and apply the lessons but before they become especially sensitive about their bodies, that will cut accidents and save lives. The programme works by combining work in the classroom with a visit to hospital to learn emergency life skills. Approximately 5,000 10 and 11-year-olds in Oxfordshire take part each year. Children enjoy it, teachers value it, and, most importantly, it works.

I congratulate all who work on the programme—its administrators and volunteers, as well as the medical staff and teachers. I have met children on the course, and it is uplifting to see their enthusiasm for the knowledge and practical skills that they have learned, and how proud they are to go home and tell their parents that they know how to save their life. I have one feedback message from a youngster who went on the programme:

“I have shown my mum how to do the recovery position! She was very impressed! I told her about CPR and I now know that if someone has collapsed then I could save their life. Hope you enjoy my feedback. Please carry on teaching children to save people’s lives.”