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NZ Schoolchildren At Risk Says First Aid Expert

Media release 23rd April 2008

NZ Schoolchildren At Risk Says First Aid Expert

New Zealand children are in danger at school according to an international resuscitation expert.

Chris Clarke, an Operating Department Practitioner and Director of Life Simulation, says that the lack of teachers certificated in First Aid and CPR in New Zealand may be putting children at risk.

According to the Ministry of Education, it is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees at New Zealand schools to implement health and safety procedures based on the National Administration Guidelines.

Currently the guidelines state that each Board of Trustees is required to ‘provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students’* - but do not specifically require teachers to be certificated in CPR or First Aid.

“The problem with these guidelines is that they can be interpreted differently by each individual school,” says Mr Clarke. “They need to be more specific and state that every teacher is required to learn CPR,” says Mr Clarke.

The high cost of certified OSH and NZQA First Aid courses and the two full days attendance required per person can create a temptation for schools to neglect putting solid procedures in place, he says.

Even schools that do require a certain proportion of their workforce to be certified in First Aid and CPR cannot guarantee that one of these staff members will be on duty at all times.

“This is all cause for serious concern,” says Mr Clarke.

“New Zealand has an increasing incidence in allergies, anaphylactic shock with peanuts and also asthma,” says Mr Clarke. “These conditions can all result in a child failing to breathe and there is a need for more teachers to be trained in First Aid and CPR, especially when kids are more likely to stop breathing at school and around the house.”

Mr Clarke, a father of two, says it is his experiences as an Operating Department Practitioner in British hospitals that made him aware of the need for more parents and teachers to be trained in CPR. When the family moved to New Zealand he decided to take this expertise and established Life Simluation in 2006.

“There is one case that still haunts me now. It was a four year old girl who collapsed and was brought to the hospital where I was on duty,” recalls Mr Clarke. “Unfortunately none of her family knew how to perform CPR and even after half and hour of trying to resuscitate her, she passed away.”

“I want people to be more aware of how a course in CPR could help save the lives of many New Zealand children”.

Mr Clarke’s company Life Simulation offers a programme which provides Basic and Advanced Life Support resuscitation training for both the general public and healthcare professionals within New Zealand.

“Life Simulation teaches scenario based courses where candidates learn by doing,” says Mr Clarke. “Students work within small groups, using the latest in simulation aids and within their own familiar surroundings.”

With an emphasis on improving first aid training within schools, Life Simulation removes the time and financial barriers by providing a four-hour course for just $5 per teacher – with a refresher course six months later that’s half price.

“At the end of the day, our main concern is the safety and wellbeing of New Zealand children,” says Mr Clarke. “We need to protect our kids by any means possible and by changing these policies, we’ll be making a step in the right direction.”


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