Monday 10 June 2013

Two important points about first aid

For the last six years I've been working as a first aider, trained and duly authorised by the British Red Cross and other organisations. Every once in a while one of my friends will get the chance to train in first aid themselves for their work and they ask me if I have any advice.

I tell them that there are two things you have to accept about becoming a first aider.

The first thing is one day, probably through no fault of your own, you may end up watching another human being die. I've been lucky, myself, treating minor cuts and bruises and burns and concussions. I've yet to be there for anything where a person has died but I have known people who have. I had to be aware, and I was going in, that some day it could happen, especially since I'm not only a first aider at work. Law and morality requires that if I see someone injured out in the world I have to help and it could be anything: motorcycle accident, stabbing, anything.

I'd do my best, follow the manual to the letter, but at the end of the day (as my last instructor put it) there are limits to what the human body can survive and no amount of effort is going to save them.

But you can't let it affect you. You have to sort of switch off the fear of failure otherwise it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's a delicate balance and no one knows how they'll react when the moment comes. I don't know, I can only hope for the best and keep in practice so if the worst does happen I'll be able to say I did absolutely everything I could.

The second thing is that the badge isn't designed like a normal badge with a normal safety pin arrangement on the back. They're designed like earrings and sometimes the back bit will fall off in your shirt, the badge will stab you in the tit and dear God it hurts!

And that's my advice.

Oh, and the regulations generally say check the contents of your first aid box weekly. Bugger that, check it daily because people will raid it for their bathroom cabinet when you aren’t looking.

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