London black cab drivers to learn life-saving and medical skills

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Thousands of taxi drivers are to become London’s new emergency responders by learning how to handle different attacks and medical crises in the city

Victims of acid attacks, terror attacks and even people suffering a heart attack will soon be able to receive potentially life-saving treatment from their black cab driver.

With many taxi drivers in the UK capital being booked to take people to hospital, taxi hailing app mytaxi has developed “Knowledge+” to help its 17,500 drivers learn essential health, safety and people skills.

The free online training will teach drivers life-saving techniques such as CPR and how to use a defibrillator. A psychologist will also provide body language training to help drivers put passengers at ease by reading situations correctly and decoding their cues.

Former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, Chris Phillips, will advise on counter-terrorism and security training. The new initiative is also being discussed in consultations with the National Counter Terrorism Policing unit.

The course, backed by St John Ambulance, comes as a survey of more than 1,300 drivers revealed they are increasingly supporting the emergency services and facing dangerous situations.

  • Half of the respondents have been booked by passengers as an alternative to an ambulance
  • More than two thirds (71%) have made emergency trips to hospital for passengers with serious medical issues including burst appendixes and broken ankles
  • Others (7%) have specifically experienced a passenger having a stroke or heart attack
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) have come to the aid of the public in a terrorist attack

Worryingly, one driver had to deal with a passenger who was shot in the stomach, and another picked up a young female passenger whose drink had been spiked with a ‘date-rape’ drug.

Helping women in labour is a happier hazard of the job. A total of 14 said they had experienced a woman giving birth in their cab, and 140 knew drivers to whom this had happened.

Michelle Kerrigan, National Partnerships Manager for St John Ambulance, said: “As the nation's leading first aid charity, St John Ambulance is delighted to be working with mytaxi to develop life-saving skills amongst their network of drivers.

“Taxi drivers are increasingly first on the scene in an emergency, and we know that administering first aid in those crucial first few minutes can be the difference between life and death.”

Chris Phillips said: “Threats to the nation’s capital are changing at an unprecedented pace. You can pretty much guarantee that whatever incident happens in London, a black cab will be at the scene or nearby. Professionalising their response is a brilliant way to help keep Londoners safe.”

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