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Mohamed al Romaithi, the general manager of NECMA, said schoolchildren would learn how to deal with "any kind of emergency".
Mohamed al Romaithi, the general manager of NECMA, said schoolchildren would learn how to deal with 'any kind of emergency'.

Teaching children to react responsibly

Youngsters in Abu Dhabi will be taught how to deal with fires and earthquakes as part of an initiative aiming to reach 74,000.

ABU DHABI // Tens of thousands of pupils will be taught how to respond to life-threatening emergencies, under a new scheme that will also encourage them to report criminal activity to the police. Mohmed al Jenaibi, the inspection director at the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NECMA), which is organising the programme, said a team of experts would visit 30 schools over the next month to teach pupils how to react "professionally" in emergency situations, instead of by instinct. "If there's a fire, they will rush to the door to get out and create a bottleneck," he said. "If we teach them how to follow one after the other they will leave faster. That's the message we're trying to give." He added: "For first aid, what do you do if the person next to you just falls down? We'll show how to report somebody leaving nasty stuff in the environment or someone cutting flowers in front of your house." Next Sunday, the experts, including police officers and health and environment officials, will visit schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Liwa and other places in the emirate, including private institutions. Each will give 10-minute briefings. Visiting teachers will take the lessons back to their pupils. Organisers hope to reach 74,000 pupils through the scheme, called Our Schools ... Safe and Secure. The officials will also urge the pupils to contact authorities if they see someone vandalising property, for instance, or illegally dumping waste. Mohamed al Romaithi, the general manager of the NECMA, said: "Schools can have fires, buildings can collapse, there can be injuries in playgrounds - we need students to know how to deal with emergencies like this. There could be natural disasters like earthquakes that take place while they are at school. "We haven't experienced major natural disasters but they can happen at any time. I have children and they don't know anything about this." Vijay Mathu, the principal of Abu Dhabi Indian School, praised the idea: "It would be good if they could come and talk to all the schools. If the authorities are taking the initiative and coming to schools that's good. "If they are talking about illegal dumping, so children are made aware of environmental degradation, that's very good." George Mathew, the principal of Our Own English High School in the capital, described it as "an important educational drive". Health officials will also teach the pupils the risks of poor diet and diabetes. dbardsley@thenational.ae

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