‘Safety Calling’ teaches Guernsey children accident prevention skills

Guernsey’s emergency services have been helping local children learn what do to in an emergency and how to avoid accidents happening as part of the annual Safety Calling Challenge.

More than six hundred 10 and 11-year-olds have taken part in a range of activities organised by the Guernsey Child Accident Prevention Group. Working in small groups, the children get involved in seven different accident prevention scenarios, including first aid, road safety and what to do in a fire.

The first aid scenario, which used “choking vests” to teach children how to help someone who is choking, was run by staff from St John Training.

This week the Chief Ambulance Officer, Head of Law Enforcement and Chief Fire Officer went along to lend their support and watch some of the sessions which have been taking place at the St Saviours Community Centre.

Chief Ambulance Officer Mark Mapp said:

“First aid is an important skill for all ages. This event is a great opportunity to teach some simple but potentially life saving skills and complements the St John First Aid in Schools programme which has been running for many years. There have been a number of cases in recent years where children have come to the help of others and have been able to put the life-saving skills they’ve learnt into action before the ambulance arrives.”

Chief Fire Officer Jon Le Page added:

“Training is a vital part of how the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service prepares to deal with the emergency situations we respond to. Every year Safety Calling teaches hundreds of children what to do in a variety of scenarios and means a whole generation will know what to do while we are on our way.”

Head of Law Enforcement Ruari Hardy said:

“This excellent yearly initiative is a great way to teach hundreds of school children about emergency situations all in a safe space. Education is a key tool for effective community initiatives and while obviously hope the children never have to put into practice what they have learnt today, it is a fantastic use of our time to ensure they have this knowledge to put into practice should an emergency occur. Guernsey Law Enforcement will continue to support this initiative with staff from our Neighbourhood Policing Team.”

During four of the scenarios, children are also given the opportunity to make real 999 calls to the Joint Emergency Services Control Centre.

Event leader and Children and Young Peoples Healthy Lifestyle Worker Tom Cheshire said:

“Approximately 2000 children have to visit the Emergency department at the PEH each year as the result of an accident and many of these are preventable. The Safety Calling Challenge enables children to learn about keeping safe and how to put their knowledge into practice. It will also help children to act in helpful and responsible ways if they see someone else in difficulty. The activities are fun as well as being an opportunity for children to learn vital messages about accident prevention. Safety Calling ensures the Year 6 children are taught vital safety skills with the help of all our experienced leaders and experts. The activities are not normally taught in schools and the knowledge they gain can last a lifetime.

We are so grateful to all the agencies who give their time every year to ensure that the workshops are professionally presented in a way that is appropriate and realistic. When we test the children before and after they have been to Safety Calling both their levels of knowledge and ability to identify risks increase substantially so we know we are making a difference”

Other scenarios included:-

  • Kitchen safety with the HPU Health Trainers and Frossard Ward staff,
  •  Internet safety with Education Services,
  • Safe and Secure online with the Children’s library
  • Water safety with Youth Workers.

Yvonne Le Page, Chair of the Guernsey Child Accident Prevention Group added:

“On behalf of the Group I would also like to thank our sponsors Rotary Guernesiais, and Traffic and Highway Services whose continued support funds the centre hire and running costs. We are also very grateful to Airtel-Vodafone who provided all the mobiles phones and sponsor the text messaging service and also to the many companies including Guernsey Electricity who have sponsored the activity book the children take home with them afterwards.”