Young people * First aid

Eleven year olds should take alcohol first aid classes

Children need alcohol first aid classes So they can help their drunk friends

Children as young as eleven should learn first aid skills to deal with drunk friends, the British Red Cross has said.

A survey of 2,500 11 to 16 year olds found that one in seven has been in an emergency situation as a result of a friend drinking too much alcohol, and more than one in 10 have been left to cope with a drunken friend who was sick, injured or unconscious.

Half of these had to deal with someone who had passed out, and a quarter had to deal with an injured friend who had been drunk and in a fight.

When faced with the prospect of dealing with a dangerously drunk friend, 44 per cent of those questioned said they panicked, and 46 per cent said they didn’t know what to do.

A large number of young people who tried to help out said they were left distressed as they were unsure whether they had done the correct thing. Nearly half were worried their friend would choke on their own vomit and more than a third were concerned their friend wouldn't wake up.

More than eighty per cent of young people surveyed said they would feel safer if they had some first aid knowledge.

Latest figures show that 7,475 under 15s in England were admitted to hospital with alcohol related conditions between 2006 and 2009, although many more injuries will have been dealt with by young people themselves.

Only one in 10 young people called 999 and less than half contacted their parents when faced with coping with an injured, sick or unconscious friend.

The survey also found that one in five 11 to 16 year olds have been drunk – on average three times in the past six months.

One in three teenagers in the 14 to 16 age range said they got drunk most weekends, drinking an average of 11 units of alcohol – the equivalent of seven and half alcopops or four large cans of beer/cider.

Other findings of the survey showed that nearly 90 per cent of young people had already coped with a first aid crisis; 27 per cent had coped with an asthma attack, 33 per cent had dealt with a head injury, 28 per cent had helped someone who was choking and 10 per cent helped with someone having an epileptic fit.

Joe Mulligan, first aid expert at the British Red Cross, said: “In recent years, the issue of young people drinking to excess has been a regular feature in the media but their vital role in saving lives when they and their friends find themselves in vulnerable situations generally has not been mentioned.

"We need to ensure that every young person – irrespective of whether they’re drinking – has the ability and confidence to cope in a crisis."

The survey findings have been released to mark the launch of Life. Live it, a British Red Cross campaign aimed at 11 to 16 year olds, to help them learn life-saving skills to cope in an emergency.

This article was published on Mon 13 September 2010

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