Wigan full council approves motion to explore first aid training in schools

The idea was given a unanimous thumbs-up from the borough's elected representatives.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 7:00 am

Labour politician Coun John Harding suggested using the citizenAID app to ensure young people are prepared to help in emergency situations.

The value of first aid has been demonstrated by the harrowing testimony at the inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing which has heard how lives were saved by those who had the skills to react to the appalling injuries inflicted in the terror attack.

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Coun John Harding wants the citizenAID app used in the borough's schools

Coun Harding, who was borough fire commander before he retired and is also currently the Labour election candidate for Atherleigh ward, was inspired to suggest his motion by seeing the charity’s co-founder Brigadier Professor Timothy Hodgetts give evidence to the Arena inquiry.

He was delighted by the cross-party support in the chamber for his idea on Wednesday night.

He said: “Our children are tomorrow’s adults and we live in a world with many threats. They are also tech-savvy.

“We need them to be prepared, not scared. The free citizenAID appgives easy to use information to keep themselves and others safe in emergency or terrorist situations.

“If they have done some basic training on this they potentially can give help to friends, relatives or complete strangers when faced with something serious.

“I only came across citizenAID when I watched Brigadier Hodgetts give his testimony to the inquiry and as soon as I saw it I thought it was a message we need to get out there.

“I welcome the support of all councillors on this matter. I am glad to see it has been supported by all parties.”

The charity is updating the time-honoured advice on first aid of airways, breathing and circulation (ABC) by adding catastrophic bleeding as something people need to be able to work on.

Severe blood flow should be treated with direct and indirect pressure and in serious cases with a tourniquet.

First aid lessons were introduced to the national curriculum in September 2020 following recommendations made by Lord Bob Kerslake in his inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing one year on from the attack.

Resources produced by citizenAID includes books for primary school children explaining in a non-threatening way the “run, hide, tell” advice for use in the event of an attack.

Standish councillor Debbie Parkinson, who is a trainer with the North West Ambulance Service, said first aid training in schools is currently ‘intermittent’.

Coun Harding said he is aware that first aid lessons are now compulsory in all schools, but he feels that it is ‘sketchy’ and time for training can be ‘quite tight’.

Fellow Atherleigh councillor Debra Wailes, who seconded the motion, said it is not calling for a heightened sense of fear and threat, but ‘quite the opposite’.

She said: “We are not advocating one particular approach as we believe that schools need to look at their own context, expertise and community needs to adopt the most appropriate one.

“We seek instead for our children and young people to become skilled and empowered.”

The local election candidates for Atherleigh ward are: Paul Fairhurst (Conservatives), Lorraine Gillon (Liberal Democrats), John Harding (Labour), Natasha Hodgkinson (Independent Network), Zoe Irlam (Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley Together).

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