British Red Cross to help equip Londoners with first aid skills as part of mayor’s emergencies strategy

A leading crisis response organisation has welcomed moves to ensure first aid training will play a key role in better preparing the people of London for emergencies including extreme weather and terror attacks.

The British Red Cross will work alongside City Hall, NHS England and local authorities to increase access to first aid training for Londoners after lifesaving skills were included as an important part of the Mayor for London’s new London City Resilience Strategy.

Members of the public are often first on the scene in the event of an emergency – commonly before the arrival of emergency services.

The better equipped people are to respond, the greater the chances of lives being saved.

British Red Cross executive director for UK operations Norman McKinley said: “First aid skills save lives.

“Whether an emergency is large or small, ordinary people can make a crucial difference so long as they have the skills and confidence to help.

“We welcome the new London City Resilience Strategy and look forward to working with others to see what parts of London and which groups of people might benefit the most from first aid training and how we can reach them.

“The British Red Cross believes that everyone should know how to save a life and looks forward to helping turn London into a city of lifesavers.” 

British Red Cross research shows that 44% of people in London believe they are likely to be affected by an emergency such as a flood, severe storm or terror attack.

As part of the development of the London City Resilience Strategy, the British Red Cross and Deputy Mayor for London Fiona Twycross, held a workshop for people working in the voluntary and community sector.

At the session, people came together to discuss the key challenges facing London and what community-based organisations could do to help make the city more resilient.

The British Red Cross would now like to see a review of the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act so that the role of the community and voluntary sector during emergencies can be enshrined in law.

That way we can all work together to better identify what a particular community’s needs are during a crisis and tap into the knowledge, skills and resources of individuals and organisations within that community

Norman McKinley said: “The voluntary and community sector has an important role to play in helping local people prepare for emergencies, responding to crises when they happen and supporting communities as they recover.

“Local authorities can miss opportunities to mobilise people where they live so we are encouraged to see City Hall looking to identify opportunities for collaboration that harness that potential.

“It’s crucial that the people affected by an emergency are at the heart of the community’s response to it.”

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Researchers to investigate method of growing new blood vessels

A new treatment for stimulating the growth of new blood vessels in the heart will be investigated by researchers at the University of Bristol thanks to funding of over £100,000 from national charity Heart Research UK.

A heart attack is caused by a blockage of one or more coronary arteries of the heart, which prevents blood and oxygen reaching the heart muscle.

Treatment for heart attacks include reopening the blocked coronary artery with stents or bypass surgery, though there are limitations with these treatments. Reopening coronary arteries is often insufficient to achieve a complete salvage of the heart, and the damage caused by a heart attack can lead to heart failure.

A potential new treatment is to increase the blood flow to damaged heart tissue by using drugs that encourage the body to grow new blood vessels.

The project will be led by Prof Paolo Madeddu, Chair of Experimental Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Bristol, who, along with his team, discovered that an excess of a protein called BACH1 can prevent blood vessel formation.

Prof Madeddu and his team hope to show that the use of BACH1 inhibitors can stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. If successful, this would be the first step in developing them into drug treatments for heart disease. This would result in improved quality of life and reduced risk of developing heart failure.

Also, this treatment may benefit people suffering from other diseases where new vessel growth is needed, such as poor blood circulation in the legs, or damage to other organs, such as the kidney, brain and eyes.

Prof Madeddu said: “The use of BACH1 inhibitors is a very promising area of study that promises to have a huge impact on the way that we treat a wide range of conditions.

“If we are successful, the door will be opened for a whole new method of treating people who have suffered damage to their hearts. The ability to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels will allow us to drastically improve the quality of life of patients who may be at risk of heart failure.

“We’re very grateful to Heart Research UK for allowing us to undertake this research.”

Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive of Heart Research UK, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the research of Prof Madeddu and his team, which has the potential to significantly reduce the risk of people developing heart failure after a heart attack.

“Our Translational Research Project Grants are all about bridging the gap between laboratory-based scientific research and patient care – they aim to bring the latest developments to patients as soon as possible.

 “The dedication we see from UK researchers is both encouraging and impressive and Heart Research UK is so proud to be part of it.”

The £107,726 Translational Research Project grant was awarded to the University of Bristol as part of Heart Research UK’s annual awards for research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.

Last year, Heart Research UK awarded more than £1.6 million in grants for medical research projects across the UK. To date, the charity has invested more than £25 million in medical research via its grants programme.


THE FUTURE media and communication response to emergencies and disasters within the UK will be shaped by a new not for profit organisation launched today (Tuesday, 4th February).  

EPiCC (Emergency Practitioners in Crisis Communication) will support the development and delivery of effective crisis communication by providing a network for all who practice and operate in this arena to share good practice, train, learn and exercise within a safe environment.  

Director of EPiCC, Chris Webb, the former Head of News and Deputy Director of Public Affairs with the Metropolitan Police said: “EPiCC is built around three core principles. The need to Prepare, Plan and Practice.  Having led the media and comms response to emergencies and major incidents for almost 30 years, I understand the benefits that an organisation like this will bring.

“In 2017 and 2018 I was invited to deliver key note speeches to EMPA (Emergency Media and Public Affairs) a not for profit organisation in Australia and New Zealand who work with comms professionals from the public and private sectors to enhance and improve their response to disasters. EMPA has made a real difference to how those two countries now handle such incidents.

“Over the last 12 months I have been working with partners involved in the emergency response at a national level here in the UK to set up a similar model and I’m delighted that the vision has now become a reality. There will continue to be a close working relationship between EPICC and EMPA.”

EPiCC is supported by a Board of Advocates with wide-ranging and extensive experience of emergency management and crisis communication across a broad range of incidents and sectors. As well as enhancing what they deliver, through their knowledge, skills and international networks, they help to ensure EPiCC stays up to date, relevant and responsive to the rapidly changing nature of emergency management and crisis communication in today’s society.

Advocate Alec Wood, the former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police said: “Effective crisis communication must be at the heart of an effective emergency management response for any organisation that provides services to the public. Ultimately the quality and timeliness of information during an emergency can save lives and keep people safe.”

“Developing and enhancing the skills of your people is key. If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. One can only fully prepare when decisions are based on a sound understanding and comprehensive knowledge of what to expect during an emergency or crisis. The training and coaching from EPiCC gives greater confidence, should the worst happen.”

You can find out more about EPiCC by visiting or follow us on Twitter @UKEPiCC