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Alarm at child alcohol emergencies

Children as young as 11 have been forced to deal with emergencies involving drunken friends, research found.

Some have had to cope with friends being heavily sick, getting injured or lying unconscious, according to a poll of 2,500 youngsters for the British Red Cross.

One in seven (14%) children aged 11 to 16 have seen an emergency caused by drunkenness, while one in 10 has dealt with alcohol-related sickness, injury or unconsciousness.

Of those who have been in an emergency, only 10% called 999, while 47% called their parents for help.

Almost a quarter (23%) of youngsters surveyed have been drunk themselves, on average three times in the past six months.

More than one in three (36%) 14 to 16-year-olds said they got drunk most weekends, consuming an average of 11 units of alcohol - equivalent to almost a bottle of wine.

Almost 90% (89%) of those interviewed have coped with some sort of health crisis. Some 27% have witnessed an asthma attack, 33% have dealt with a head injury, 18% with somebody choking and 9% with somebody having an epileptic fit.

Asked how they responded to these incidents, 44% said they panicked, while 46% did not know what to do.

The poll was released to mark the new British Red Cross campaign, Life. Live it, which encourages young people to learn first aid.

Joe Mulligan, first aid expert at the British Red Cross, said: "Our aim is that all young people and children in the UK have the opportunity to learn first aid skills and gain the confidence to save lives."

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