COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Red Cross calls for first aid to be on curriculum

The British Red Cross wants to get first aid training onto the National Curriculum, and has been working with teachers and professional education bodies to lobby the Department for Education and Skills for its inclusion.

"We're in the crazy situation where learning to play a musical instrument is taking precedence over our children learning first aid," said Joe Mulligan, first aid specialist at the British Red Cross.

"First aid is still seen as a specialist skill, but if we can get schools to provide this as part of a child's overall education, then the ability to save lives will become as natural as learning maths or geography," he said.

The lobbying is part of a wider awareness drive that started last month to encourage more people to become first aiders. The charity is trying to encourage more families to recognise the necessity of first aid training, and believes that training children in first aid will help integrate life-saving skills into family life.

The campaign signals the charity's intention to become the main provider of first aid services in the UK. It is also launching an interactive CD-Rom that uses simulations to teach young parents the basics of first aid after it conducted a survey that revealed a dearth of first aid skills among new parents.

"The survey showed that 53 per cent of parents don't know how to cope with a small child choking on an object, which is very worrying because it shows that many parents are confident but incompetent at first aid," said Mulligan. "Parents have a responsibility to look after their families and we have a responsibility to equip them with the skills to do so."

The charity will use the survey results to lobby government and health visitors to promote first aid in antenatal classes.

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