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Safety 1st (aid..?)


Last month I sat my Outdoor First Aid qualification in the lovely Peak District village of Castleton.  It was an extremely enjoyable two-day course, which pushes the usual first aid at qualification further, due to the difficulties experienced in an outdoor environment.  Ok, so my hands make wearing the silicone gloves a bit challenging and removing some of the packaging painfully difficult, but that’s no excuse not to get a qualification.

A number or reports have report hit the press recently (here’s one from St. John Ambulance), stating that a huge amount of the population have either never been on a 1st aid course, or have forgotten the skills.  Figures are even pointing that lack of first aid skills kills more than cancer.  This I find disappointing.  Employers used to send their employees in droves, and I attended my first course as a sixteen year old apprentice on the electricity industry. We had to regularly re-qualify and had full-blown competitions between offices.  People used to queue up to attend..!  At times the patient came out looking like an egyptian mummy, but enthusiasm was abound in the workplace.  When AED‘s entered the market, again enthusiasm jumped, but it has seemed to wane since.  I believe this is due to lack of budgets, lack of training time and lack of initiative by many.  How do you put a price on life..?

Don’t think that being unemployed etc is an excuse as many pre employment courses are training first aid for free, to make people more skilled and employable.

When I was assessed for Operation Raleigh in the early 1990’s, one of the exercises saw a group of us carrying a stretcher bound casualty down the hills from Hollins Cross and into Castleton.  We soon realised how heavy a person was ( I think it took 14 of us) to carry the stretcher and casualty), and my hat goes off to all the Mountain Rescue Teams across the UK, and indeed the world for their effort, determination and time.  We use the outdoors at will, relying on the goodwill of others to help us when were in trouble.  I’m always happy to contribute to their cause.

Just a few basic skills can save someone’s life. I’ve pulled a couple of folk off the street before and handed them over to the emergency services with cuts, bruises and broken bones.  Of course, I’ve been through my fair share of medical care and seen far too much blood (mainly my own), but that’s another story…

What bothers me though is the apathy some people show.  Just a few weeks ago I was presenting in a school when a member of staff entered the staffroom and asked if anyone knew 1st aid.  I immediately said yes, but was asked not to help as I was a guest..! Apparently one of the pupils had fallen and banged her head. School 1st aid staff were asked, but refused because they were eating their dinner and it “might be messy”.  I think you can imagine what was going through my mind..!  Thankfully the girl was fine and it all ended without incident, but we need to accept the responsibility we are given – whatever the skill or task.  Do we teach First Aid in schools..?  I can’t find much information about it (except the paranoia over someone getting injured whilst as school), but what a wonderful place to start.  Talking of schools, here’s a story from some friends I have in Germany…

My name is Alex. I’m 14 Years old and come from Germany.  My friend Nigel asked me to write an article about my experience with a first aider (my 17-year-old brother Maxi) while having a serious bicycle accident.  We were riding to the country fair, when I accidentally rode into one of my friend’s bikes.  I can`t remember anything of the accident, but I remember very well, when I woke up in the hospital, that my brother was next to me.  This gave me a very secure feeling.  Also, he could tell me everything about the accident.  How they got me off the road, that he measured my pulse and the time of my unconsciousness, organized our friends and gave an accurate report to the ambulance staff.  Because he is a first aider, he was allowed to join me in the ambulance.

I suffered from a basal skull fracture, from which I have almost recovered (off sports for another month) without any complications.  This is also a result of the sudden help of a first aider – who was my case my own brother.

Because of this experience I decided, like my brother, to join the first aider group at my school.  We are pupils from the 7th to 10th grade organised by a teacher and ourselves. As soon as we are 14 years old, we can do the first aid certification at the Red Cross. We organise ourselves by timetable, and have a Rota stating who is responsible for the day at school.  If something happens , the school loudspeakers call: “first aider, please come to the first aid room“ and we help where we can.

What a fantastic story and thank you Alex for sharing it.  If Germany is teaching 1st Aid in schools, why aren’t we in the UK..?

So take a first aid course. Pester your employer, talk to a provider, get off your backside and you might be able to help someone or even save a life.  Is it really that hard..?

3 thoughts on “Safety 1st (aid..?)”

  1. Can’t agree more been first aid trained for many years now both REC and First Aid at Work, only ever need it once or twice. When our the kids were young it was a comforting feeling that you could help if accidents occured, although I think the first aid knowledge was like an ongoing risk assessment which actually stopped some potential accident situations arising. Saddly I can’t imagine the Government going down this line as there will be an initial cost even this may be outweighed by potential savings

    1. Right, first aid should be added as a subject in schools. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what they are talking about on the web. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. Thank you for this article.

  2. A very objective look at something so important. First aid should be what it says, the first person should be able to aid in a situation, often though its not the first one with the knowledge, or even the first one thats willing to help.

    My interest in first aid started many years ago on Operation Raleigh when the medic had an accident. Thankfully he could sort himself out and as the years passed my knowledge grew. I now teach first aid and run courses and often get frustrated by the lack of willingness to learn just a few simple and basis skills which give you the ability to make a huge difference.

    A little knowledge can go a long way, take the British Heart Foundation advert that featured Vinnie Jones. a short ad of not much more than a minute and they said in November 2012 that 28 lives have been saved since its launch as a result and thats just the ones they know about. Just think how much of a difference could be made if we all had a one day first aid qualification under our belt.

    It infuriates me that this subject isn’t taught in schools and its only those pressed into attending training sessions that gain the knowledge. I started offering my local community first aid courses at cost and the uptake? Almost none.

    Follow Nigel’s top tip, take a first aid course. Pester your employer, talk to a provider, get off your backside and you might be able to help someone or even save a life. Is it really that hard..?

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