TRAINING in asthma awareness will be offered to all school nurses in Lancashire to help raise awareness of the illness.

All school nurses across the North West will be offered the potentially life-saving training as a result of a initiative between Asthma UK, NHS North West and Respiratory Education UK.

Since January 2012 at least three children in the North West have died due to asthma, and research conducted by Asthma UK found that two thirds of children with asthma aged between five and 18 years of age have experienced an asthma attack whilst they were at school.

The usual symptoms of asthma, which is triggered by an irritant such as pets, pollutants or diet, include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest.

There are on average two children in every class in the UK with asthma making it the most common long-term condition in childhood.

Kelly Murch, the grandma and guardian of seven-year-old Neil Murch, who suffers from brittle asthma – a severe form of the illness, welcomed the training.

Kelly, from Blackburn, said: “Anything that can be done to assist schools and teachers and pupils could help to save a child’s life.

“Asthma is not understood properly. A lot of people think you just need a couple of puffs on an inhaler before PE, but for some an asthma attack can be fatal.

“Younger children aren’t able to vocalise how they are feeling if an attack is coming on so nurses and teachers need to be trained on what to look for. With Neil, when an attack is coming on his colour changes, he goes quiet, he lies down to catch his breath.

“A child can be someone else’s responsibility for many hours a day while at school.

“If you can catch the early symptoms you can prevent a major attack.”

Gill Hall, from Respiratory Education UK, who has developed the Wize up to Wheezing programme, said: “Only small numbers of children die from asthma each year – but many if not all of these deaths are thought to be preventable. Having a structured policy for the management of asthma in schools is essential.”

This training includes a toolkit which includes study days, posters, emergency cards and interactive access and ongoing support.

The programme will be completed by the end of March by which point all 500 school nurses should have received training.