This month I had the pleasure of taking part in the Croydon Junior Citizens Scheme. This is a multi-agency project involves the London Fire Brigade, Police, Transport for London and the London Ambulance Service amongst others. The children are taken through a range of practical scenarios that highlight possibly hazardous situations that the student may encounter in their everyday lives. The experts then deliver a number of safety messages in a fun and entertaining way to maximise impact and retention.
We set up camp for the two week event at a Croydon fire station. Hundreds of children from all over the borough were brought in by buses from their respective schools. They are divided into small groups of approximately 6 and each of the attending agencies runs a scenario lasting no more than 10-12 minutes.
I was positioned in my little tent with my not so glamorous assistant in the form of a Resus Annie mannequin for company. It should be pointed out that I did all the hard work while she just lay around and took her fee. The smell of the crushed grass underfoot and plastic of the tent took me back to my halcyon days in the circus and made a lovely change from the usual dashing around.
Without exception the children were brilliantly behaved and attentive. They did come out with some funny things though. When I introduced myself as Lysa, one group started chiming Lisa Simpson, Lisa Simpson and then started to sing the theme tune from the Simpsons at the top of their voices!
The first question I asked the children was ‘What am I?’ To which they invariably shouted out:
“You are a policeman”
“A doctor” – or even -
I pointed out that I didn’t have wheels or headlights and therefore probably wasn’t an ambulance, to which they would agree and settle for policeman, nurse or doctor!
I asked them where they thought I went to work in the morning and once again, rather than an ambulance station they suggested that I signed on for duty at the police station, hospital or surgery.
The focus on the presentations is always about their personal safety. I emphasise that while it is wonderful to be in a position to get a chance to help someone, it is very important not to put yourself in any danger while doing so. I gave an example where by the child had been asked to go to the corner shop and on opening the door saw the shop owner ‘Mr Mannequin’ collapsed on the
“What is the first thing that you are going to do?” I asked each of them.
” See if he is breathing”
“Give him the kiss of life”
“Ask him if he is ok”
“Check his pulse” were the usual responses. I used this juncture to reinforce the importance of checking for danger but some more unusual comments included;
“I would think he is joking and laugh at him”
“See if he has got a knife in him” and one little lad who said;
“I would run home, but if I run to my house and all my family has been kidnapped and someone has cut all the electricity to my house so the phone won’t work and all of my neighbours are out – how would I call 999?”
If I got my timing right, there would be a little opportunity for comments and questions at the end of the session. On one occasion one little chap told me about his experience with the ambulance service:
“I banged my head really badly once and got condensation, so my mum called 999”!
“That’s good” I told him, “condensation can be very serious, always best to get it checked out!”
REMEMBER: DR ABC
Call for help