A YOUNG girl with cerebral palsy had to be resuscitated by paramedics after a choking episode on the school bus.

Now her mum fears the policy of not giving medical training to assistants who escort children with special needs on bus journeys is putting the youngsters in danger.

Joanna’s daughter Poppy started choking on the way home from school, but the escort responsible for the safety of the pupils on the bus could not use the nine-year-old's suction machine to clear her airway.

She said: “It was awful, they could see the machine but knew they were not allowed to use it. They had to call an ambulance and wait for it to arrive, then the paramedics resuscitated her.

“It was a terrible situation for everyone, for Poppy, for her classmates who saw her choke and pass out, and for the escorts who must have felt so helpless.

Joanna, from Wroughton, said: “They’re allowed to carry out first aid but haven’t had medical training so they can’t administer any medication. They told me they’d be happy to have that training and I would happily pay for it, but the council said no.

“There is a gap in safeguarding between home and school which worries me and leaves vulnerable children at risk of harm. The bus escorts are brilliant and we’re lucky to have them, but they are hamstrung by this lack of training.

“If someone has an asthma attack, they can’t get the inhaler. If someone goes into anaphylactic shock they can’t use an epi-pen. If Poppy starts choking again, they can’t use the suction machine even just for a couple of minutes.

“Does a child have to die before something is done about this?”

Joanna contacted Swindon Borough Council with her concerns after the choking incident in June and has now been offered some money to arrange alternative transport to school, which she thinks misses the point.

She added: “Poppy loves going on the bus, she enjoys the social aspect of it, and it’s essential for us because we would have to make a two-hour round trip each day to take her ourselves. I just want her and the other children to be safe and know that their additional needs are met.

“The ambulance service is under enough pressure as it is. They don’t need to be called if someone on the bus can deal with an emergency straight away and the child doesn’t have to suffer while waiting.”

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “We were sorry to hear of the incident involving Mrs Alexander’s daughter and are pleased that the emergency services responded so quickly.

“Our passenger assistants are currently working within the council’s agreed policy guidelines, which do not allow them to get directly involved with administering medication or performing medical interventions. This policy, however, will be open for public consultation and we would fully encourage Mrs Alexander to contribute her views to help inform the development of the policy.

“Parents are aware of our current policy and our assistants are fully trained in first aid, with procedures in place to call emergency services if need be. It is very rare that a child will require medical attention during transportation and we are fully committed to providing a high standard of travel assistance to those children and young people who need it.”