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The BBC's health correspondent Karen Allen
"New drivers could make all the difference"
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Roger Smith, director of the British Red Cross
"We have not costed it, but we know it is feasible"
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Monday, 7 May, 2001, 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK
First aid 'could save crash victims'
St John's Ambulance volunteers administer first aid
Administering first aid could save a life
The outcome for people injured in road accidents would be dramatically improved if more drivers could administer basic first aid, a report has found.

The British Red Cross (BRC) is launching a campaign to encourage more road users to learn simple first aid skills.

It is also pressing for all new drivers to complete first aid training before they can acquire their licence.

Anita Kerwin-Nye, National Officer for First Aid at the British Red Cross, said: "Within 20 years, road accidents are likely to be the third biggest killer globally.

"But greater first aid skills among the general public could change that.

Within 20 years, road accidents are likely to be the third biggest killer globally

Anita Kerwin-Nye, British Red Cross

"Time and time again when casualties receive immediate attention, chances of their survival and of their injuries being less severe are increased dramatically."

Statistics show there were 320,310 road accident casualties in the UK in 1999 and globally, over 20 million people are injured and disabled by road accidents every year.

Compulsory training

In Austria, Germany and Hungary, first aid training is already mandatory before a driving licence can be granted.

The BRC report identifies the time between an accident and the arrival of the emergency services as the crucial moment for first aid provision.

It says people at the scene must have first aid skills and the confidence to apply them.

Basic first aid skills, which could save lives and significantly reduce injuries, can be learnt in as little as 10 minutes, according to the report.

Medical approval

The medical profession believes more first aid training will have widespread benefits.

Dr Peter Holden, from the British Association for Immediate Care, said the campaign was an "excellent move".

"There's no point having fancy doctors, fancy equipment and fancy hospitals if patients die of a simple thing before you get there," he said.

"I also believe that if we are going to teach citizenship in this country then I think one of the things that should be taught is basic first aid."

Dr Holden's advice when faced with a road accident is to carry out three steps in the correct order: ensure your own safety, make the scene safe and then attend to the victim.

Road crash facts
320,310 UK road accident casualties in 1999
Over 20m people across the world are injured and disabled by road accidents annually
33% of Europeans will need hospital treatment because of a road accident

The BRC initiative has been welcomed by RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims.

Its chairman Zoe Stowe said: "At the moment there are a lot of initiatives in this country which aren't mandatory.

"If they were mandatory then everyone would have to carry first aid equipment and have some basic training and that would be an enormous step forward."

The BRC report has been released to mark Red Cross Week, which runs until 12 May.

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