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Become A First Aider And Make A Difference


Become A First Aider And Make A Difference

[Recommend] by HUASHI BENQUAN BIOTECHNOLOGY, Becoming a first aider is not a big deal, you give a small amount of time to learn knowledge and skill, but it could one day make a difference and save a life. This article gives one or two examples of where basic first aid knowledge, administered in a few crucial minutes has saved lives, dispels some common myths about first aid and how one charity is raising awareness through their "Be the Difference" campaign (including a neat iPhone app so you can carry first aid knowledge around with you). It finishes off with some advice on how to choose a first aid course and what to put in a basic first aid kit.

First Aid in Action

My earliest memory of first aid in action was as a child in the 1960s. It was a hot day, and I was in the shallow end of a busy outdoor pool when suddenly there was a piercing scream: I looked round, as did dozens of other children and adults, to see a very distressed mother clutching her little girl's still, blue body. To our horror it appeared she had drowned in our midst. We stared, stupefied, not knowing what to do. 

Then, we noticed a man in the distance race towards us, leap the fence around the pool, and dash into the shallow water. Approaching the desperate mother, he gently took the lifeless child from her arms, lay her on the ground, and proceeded to do what for me was an extraordinary thing: he raised her arms, then pushed them down on her chest, several times, like he was trying to make her fly. After what seemed like a long time, but was probably only a minute or two, the little girl vomited some watery fluid, then started crying, and the colour came back to her body. 

The rescuer asked for a towel, wrapped the child in it and returned her to her mother murmuring something about keeping her warm and getting her to a doctor straight away. He was a shy man who withdrew quietly without a fuss when he saw the mother had friends now helping her. 

That hero was my father. I was so proud of him, not just because of what he did, but because he seemed to be the only person who knew what to do. As I got older, I began to realize that second part should actually be a cause for concern.

(The method my father used was the old chest-pressure and arm-lift technique he learned as a schoolboy in the 1930s; that approach has since been overtaken by the mouth to mouth breathing and chest compressions of cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR.)

Later, as a teenager, when I took my bronze life-saving course, I wondered if I would ever be called to save a life, like my dad. So far, I have not had to do so, and hope like he did, I would not panic and remember my training.

As the decades have slipped by, other opportunities to learn first aid came up and I took them. These included some half day courses in a large company I worked at, and in my 40s, I took the bronze life-saving course, including a CPR refresher, again. The most recent course was a session with St John Ambulance in the UK about three years ago, geared toward first aid for walkers and hikers.

Don't Assume You Know What to Do

Sadly, too many people have had no first aid training whatsoever. But perhaps just as alarming is that many people think they would know what to do, but when faced with the emergency would do the wrong thing. A UK survey commissioned by St John Ambulance in February last year found that although just over a quarter of respondents said they'd know what to do, when asked to describe what they would do in some specific scenarios, many would have done the wrong thing and even made things worse.

For example when faced with a man thrown off his motorbike and not breathing, 42% of respondents said they'd know what to do and then described the wrong thing. Of these, 43% said they would not move him for fear of spinal injury, yet if he's not breathing and does not receive CPR, he will die.

In a second example, respondents were asked what they would do to help someone choking. Only 53% said they would bang them hard on the back with their hand: and a worrying 9% said they would put their fingers down the person's throat to try and retrieve the obstacle, which is the wrong thing to do because this can push it further down the throat.

And in a third example, they were asked what they would do for a middle-aged man with chest pains. 9% said they would put him in the recovery position (lying horizontally on the side) while waiting for an ambulance. But if the chest pains signal problems with the heart, this position could increase the strain on the heart and worsen the condition. The correct thing to do is to sit him up in a comfortable position.

Be the Difference

To raise awareness of the importance of first aid, St John Ambulance launched a hard-hitting "Be the Difference" campaign depicting 5 common scenarios where first aid could make the difference between life and death. 

The scenarios are: (1) Severe bleeding, (2) Choking, (3) Heart attack, (4) Unconscious, breathing casualty, and (5) Unconscious, not breathing casualty. They are summarized in theFive ways to be the difference section of the charity's website.

St John Ambulance also invite you to test your first aid knowledge in a section that takes you through the five scenarios.

The campaign is hard-hitting because in the summary page for each scenario it describes what might happen if the casualty does not receive first aid, and it also describes a real case of a life saved as a result of correctly administered first aid. 

One example of a life saved is the real case of 24-year-old Katryn Burgess who had a heart attack just after completing a half-marathon in Cheshire, UK. Fortunately, St John Ambulance volunteers were on hand and sprang into action. They began administering CPR and using a portable electronic device (automated external defibrillator or AED) gave her a shock to bring her heart back into rhythm and then they took her to hospital.

The UK is not the only country with low awareness and training in first aid.

A Pfizer Health report from 2007 describes a similar lack of first aid skills in Australia, where more than 90% of people are unsure of their ability to help in an emergency, despite 73% saying learning first aid is as important as learning to swim and 17% saying it is more important.

The report says more than 10% of Australians have been faced with an emergency where someone required first aid but could do nothing to help, and only 6% claim to be completely confident they would be able to do the right thing.

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