I only volunteered to become a First Aider during my previous employment because nobody else would! The excuses ranged from fear of blood to not having enough time to do the training. Now I am not someone who is good with blood (especially if it’s my own being spilt!) and I can’t even watch operations on television but I am quite a calm and organised person so I thought I’d give it a try, never really believing I would need to call upon my First Aid knowledge. But I have – at least three times so far.
The first time I needed to use my knowledge was on my own baby daughter. It was around her first birthday, I was with my family at my parents’ house one evening watching television. My daughter was playing on the floor at my feet when she started coughing and wheezing and was obviously starting to choke. Everything happening in slow motion, I saw the look on everyone’s faces as I immediately picked her up, laid her across my arm and gave her three sharp taps between her shoulder blades. A ball of paper immediately flew out of her mouth and she returned to a healthy pink colour immediately.
The second time happened just two days after I had completed my 3 year First Aid at Work refresher course. A delivery van crashed right into the back of a small car right beside me as I was walking through town. I immediately assessed the situation, stopping the oncoming traffic while I checked on the two drivers. The van driver was unharmed; the lady in the car had hurt her next and back. I chatted to her in a calm and friendly way while I called for the ambulance service and made sure she did not move (in case she had injured her spine). I sat holding her hand until the ambulance arrived – she said she was so grateful that I was looking after her.
The third occasion was the most upsetting because it involved another child. I heard a bang and a scream while shopping one weekend. A car had hit a wall and a toddler was underneath. Some men moved the wall and handed the little girl to her mum. I introduced myself as a first aider, the mum calmed down a little and I started taking control, calling 999 and holding a pressure bandage against the little girls thigh wound until the ambulance arrived. Being a mum myself, I couldn’t help but consider how I would feel in the same situation; I would certainly hope that someone would come to my aid.
I have realised you can’t leave it up to others to know what to do; you need to step in and help. Taking a basic first aid course is a great opportunity to learn valuable skills and maybe find out something about yourself you didn’t know. There are two main organisations in England you can contact for more information, British Red Cross and St John Ambulance.
Byline: Katie Simmons writes articles on health and safety, she is currently pursuing her training as a volunteer for the air ambulance service.