MP for North Swindon

Justin Tomlinson MP

Swindon Advertiser Column: This Is A Huge Change That Will Save Lives

 


Scrolling through Twitter on New Year’s Day, I came across a series of tweets from Wiltshire Police’s Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, who had been on patrol in Swindon the previous evening.

In them he set out some of the challenges local officers had faced, from dealing with anti-social behaviour to making a series of arrests for violent offences.

Most concerning of all, he explained that on New Year’s Eve four of his officers had been assaulted – the most serious incident saw an officer kicked and bitten.

This assault was so brutal that the bites penetrated deep into the skin; leaving the officer hospitalised and anxious as he waits for blood test results. This will have a huge impact on the officer and his family.

There is no place for assaults in our society against any person, but especially against people who serve the public & keep us safe. They are a disgrace, and anyone who commits such an abhorrent act should face the full force of the law.

When I joined our Chief Constable on the beat in Swindon last year, we discussed the challenges officers face – including the shocking increase in the number of assaults on them & other emergency workers, and the need to increase the punishment for these offences.

This will be helped by a new law which was passed at the end of last year designed to protect the protectors by creating a specific criminal offence of assaulting an emergency worker. Over the course of the year I hope this new law will see a culture change – ending these appalling assaults once & for all.

2019 is also going to be important for an issue I have actively campaigned on since I was first elected to Parliament. Yesterday the Education Secretary confirmed that emergency lifesaving skills will be added to the curriculum later this year.

This is an issue which is incredibly personal to me. When I was a child, I found my father after he had suffered a cardiac arrest. While others stood by, I tried what little CPR I knew, but it wasn’t enough and I couldn’t save him.

There are 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests every year, and each day people needlessly die because bystanders don’t have the confidence or knowledge to perform CPR and defibrillation. For every minute without life-saving treatment the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest drops by about 10%.

Under the plans, as soon as a child starts primary school they will be taught how to call 999 and deal with common injuries, including head injuries, while in secondary school they will learn how to administer CPR and use a defibrillator.

I have actively campaigned for this change alongside the British Heart Foundation; regularly meeting Ministers, asking questions in Parliament, and leading debates in the House of Commons. I’ve also hosted several very popular CPR training sessions at my Community Office.

This is a huge change that will save lives, and I am incredibly proud that this campaign has been successful.

Finally, on a personal note, 2019 looks set to be a memorable year. Over the festive period my wife Kate & I found out that we are expecting our first child – due in July. We’re incredibly excited, and hugely grateful for all of the very kind messages we have received over the past few days.

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