New Zealand Red Cross has joined with Plunket to offer a one-day course giving teenagers essential skills for babysitting.

Sixteen students took part in a pilot at Bishop Viard College in Porirua recently. Red Cross delivered the first aid component of the course, focusing on first aid for children and infants.

The training taught teenagers how to respond to choking, poisons, wounds, allergic reactions, head injuries and concussion.

Red Cross Training Coordinator Lesley Jacobson says the course is about sharing lifesaving skills.

“Accidents can happen anywhere. Knowing what to do when a child bumps their head or chokes on their lunch can mean the difference between life and death.

“This course will give babysitters the knowledge and confidence to act when an emergency happens and will help make our communities safer.”

Students Phoebe McClean, 14, and Alisha Stapp, 15, completed the pilot course and say the first aid skills they learnt will be useful.

“These are the skills that could save a person. We could stop children from choking,” Phoebe says.

The students practised their new skills by acting out realistic scenarios and trying techniques on manikins.

Plunket Education in Schools National Coordinator Maire Perrott says all babysitters should know how to respond in an emergency, and partnering with Red Cross for the course would help ensure this.

“To have someone come and teach first aid as part of the course is fantastic. It’s really valuable for the students.”

Red Cross and Plunket are now looking to develop the course and launch it nationwide.