Imagine you're walking down a road. Cars going by left and right but you take little notice of them because....
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The First Aid Guy

Posted on October 6, 2007

This article was published in October 2007. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Imagine you're walking down a road. Cars going by left and right but you take little notice of them because you've got your mind on your work. You carry on, lost in your own thoughts. Suddenly, a loud 'bang' from twenty yards ahead brings you back to reality and you're startled to see a young woman flying through the air, her crash helmet giving her the appearance of a human cannonball.

It's a ridiculous thought but one I remember clear as a bell even though this happened 14 years ago. Her landing was awful; a slow-motion, sickening 'thud' as she hit the tarmac and lay motionless for an agonising few seconds. I was by her side immediately, my brain a whirr of activity now a memory from distant scouting days telling me not to let her take her helmet off. Another passer-by called an ambulance and as we waited and the woman tried to sit up I made her put her head between her knees in case she felt faint. Her right arm was badly swollen but thankfully only badly bruised and a nasty lump had appeared on her forehead as her helmet was the type that only protected the back and side of the head.

She was taken to hospital and the remains of her scooter were left on the side of the road. The car that had pulled out in front of her was drivable but the large dent in its front wing would have to receive professional treatment. I returned to work but for the next few days I was haunted by the thought that when I was by the woman's side, I had very little idea what I was supposed to do to help her.

And that's when my interest in first aid really started. I did a day's course a little while later, refreshing myself on those scouting basics and realising an awful lot had changed in the intervening years. Later still I started teaching scuba diving and one of the prerequisites was to be a first aid instructor. As diving was something people learnt after work I began to focus on offering full day first aid courses to local businesses on weekdays and working with families over a couple of evenings or on weekends.

The courses I run offer the essentials of first aid and in terms of health and safety they qualify participants to the level of 'Appointed Person' in the workplace. This covers scene assessment, rescue breathing and CPR, spinal injury, bleeding and shock management, choking etc... for both adults and children. Secondary Care includes splinting and bandaging with 'patients' looking like Egyptian mummies by the time we finish! Manuals are included and certification cards are issued on completion of the course. These last for two years, after which it is best to refresh your knowledge as protocols can change in that time.

First Aid has taught me many valuable skills and given me the confidence to deal with emergencies that fortunately only rarely come my way. With the right training you will learn to stop, think then act, and ultimately realise that you did everything humanly possible to help in a given situation.

When I think about first aid these days, as well as the woman on the motorbike, I think of a time when I was the patient and a former student of mine came to help. I was teaching diving in the far east and reading a book in my hammock after work when a rope gave way and dropped me three feet onto concrete on my right side. It was clear from the pain that I'd broken a rib or two and as I lay on the ground groaning I saw a couple of feet approaching slowly enough for their owner to be obviously conducting a scene assessment. A voice out of the darkness of my squinting eyes introduced itself as Geoff and asked if it could help. Geoff went by the book, straight through to treating me for shock management. After about 10 minutes the pain had subsided enough for me to talk and for us both to ascertain that the injury, whilst painful, was not serious.

Geoff had come round to get some money I owed him. He had to help himself to the contents of my wallet while I lay on the floor making comments about kicking a man while he was down but I'd have paid him a hefty tip at that point. He was a lovely chap and I was very proud.

For more information on First Aid courses, and click on First Aid.

Source: Focus, October 2007

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