Parents, 'teach your kids to dial 999'

Parents, 'teach your kids to dial 999' 

Could your child save a life? Most of us probably don't know the answer.


Mumsnet is backing an initiative urging parents to teach their children the most important lesson of all: how to save a life by dialling 999 from a landline or mobile.

Every year in the UK, nine million calls are made to the emergency services; some by children who stepped up when no one else could.

In a recent survey, of 757 respondents, 37% have not taught their child to dial 999, with nearly half of those (46%) not doing so because they don't think their child is mature enough.

Spearheading the initiative is a 90-second film created by Grey London. This heart-wrenching true story shows how five-year-old Elleemae saved her epileptic mother when she experienced a fit.

We hear the real phone call to the emergency services and witness the unforgettable chain of events. Powerfully recreated using family portraiture and unconventional footage, the film rises, driven by an original score to its climax where the incredible efforts of the little girl result in the saving of her mother.

"In advertising, we spend our lives making up fiction to get people to care," said Nils Leonard, chairman and CCO of Grey London, "but there's nothing more powerful than the truth. When it's delivered by a child and the UK's largest network of parents, rather than government, people will take notice and hopefully this message will save lives."

The survey also revealed:

• Lack of awareness: More than half (53%) of those who had not taught their child said it simply hadn't occurred to them to teach the skills

• Number confusion: a large proportion of all parents (65%) admitted that their child was not clear about the difference between emergency phone numbers in the UK (999) and US (911)

• Locked smartphones: Despite the fact that 78% of respondents know that you can dial 999 from a locked smartphone, only 23% are confident their child knows this

• Knowing what to do in an emergency: More than 70% of parents who have taught their children to dial 999 are confident that their child would know what to do if someone collapsed, wouldn't wake up or if there was a fire. But of those that haven't, more than 60% are not confident their child would know what to do in the same emergencies

Mum-of-two Loretta Addison from Warrington in Cheshire suffered an epileptic fit in January 2012. She woke up to find the paramedics in her home and her five-year-old daughter, who had called an ambulance, looking after her three-month-old sister. Loretta had told Elleemae in the past to dial 999 if she had a fit. Even in the heat of the moment, she remembered how to do it, saving her mother's life.

Academy's Frederic Planchon directed the ad. He spent a week with the family, gathering original photos and footage and filming new content with old technology to craft the story and amplify the memory of the event, while retaining its authenticity. Vodafone, which works with Mumsnet on a number of initiatives, made a substantial donation towards the production of the film.

Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts said: ''Nobody wants to think about the circumstances in which their child might need to call 999, but as Elleemae's story shows, it can literally be a lifesaver. We hope this powerful film will encourage parents to take a deep breath and have a chat with their children.'

The initiative is being supported by British Red Cross. Joe Mulligan, head of First Aid learning, said: "Our research and experience shows that even very young children can be taught how to call the emergency services. Children as young as five can learn some basic first aid, but we know that even younger children can be introduced to the idea of dialling 999. By using play-acting with your child you can help them feel confident to act in a real emergency scenario, which could potentially save a life."

For anyone who wants to teach another child this invaluable lesson, Grey London has also created a downloadable guide for parents and a cut out and keep reminder for any child faced with the need to dial 999. Go to for more details.

Mumsnet is the UK's largest network for parents, with over 70 million page views and over 14 million visits per month. It has 180 local sites and a network of 6,500 bloggers. It regularly campaigns on issues including support for families of children with special educational needs, improvements in miscarriage care and freedom of speech on the internet.

Nils Leonard added: "At Grey London we're trying to be a creative company that people are glad exists. Part of that is about making things that are more than entertaining, but useful. Stuff that might help people. This initiative is about mobilizing a powerful community to share and educate all childcarers about how to protect each other. As a creative it's a powerful message to communicate, as a father its a priceless one. I hope enough people see the film for it to make a difference."


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