Why parents need first aid courses
As a kid I attended weekly first aid lessons with the Order of St John. My most vivid memory is the nerve-wracking sling test; fold here, tuck in there – it was a toss up whether the patient ended up looking like a trussed-up chicken or I created an origami swan! Roll on several decades and the only refresher my first aid skills had seen was watching a little too much ER (in the Dr Ross days of course).
These days I'm a mum of two, but I never took the opportunity to update those first aid skills until just recently. Now that I've taken the St John first aid course I ask myself, what took me so long? During the course various medical scenarios in my adult life came flooding back from memory: a child in the playground with a cut leg, a cut hand during building renovations which led to the person passing out, trips, falls and plenty of near misses. I found myself going back to those instances and picking up on things that I could have done differently or better. Now that I've completed the course I feel much more confident that I could deal with emergencies in a way that is not only safe and best practice but could potentially save a life.
The St John First Aid Level 1 course that I attended was held at a local hall and was a full day of learning, practical application, role-play, discussion and not a badly folded sling in sight! First aid has certainly changed since I was younger and it's a lot more simple than it used to be. We covered essential skills that every person should know – how to save someone from choking; the different ways to perform CPR on either a baby, child or adult; correct treatment of burns, cuts, broken bones, bruises and sprains; and best advice for poisoning. But there were also practical things that will stick in my mind. Like ensuring that you select one specific person to call emergency services – none of this, “someone call an ambulance!” TV-drama-inspired declaration that will more than likely go unheeded as everyone assumes that someone else will do it. Or ways to let 111 staff know where an incident has occurred, no matter how remote. A demonstration of how a defibrillator should be used was invaluable. This device, at the end of the day, is the one that is most likely to save a life and we should all know how to use them.
Even though the course is covering life and death situations it was entertaining thanks to the invaluable knowledge tempered with just the right amount of good humour from our instructor, Kynan. Did you know that the Bee Gees' song, Staying Alive, has just the right rhythm for performing CPR? Apparently it's better to sing that than to belt out Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" which has the same beat!
There were around twenty other people on the course – a butcher and storeman from the local supermarket, a childcare worker, lots of office staff and a handful of taxi drivers. I now know that we have the most capable cabbies around should an emergency occur! They all had one thing in common – they had all been sent there by their employer to ensure that there was sufficient first aid knowledge in place in their work environment. But who else would need more first aid knowledge than a parent? No matter how vigilant you are, kids get into all sorts of mayhem. It's all part of being a kid - they test their limitations and sometimes they push them too far, resulting in an injury or requiring medical intervention. Imagine if every parent completed even a basic first aid course to help them to not only identify when a child needs emergency medical care but also to give them the confidence to help others, when needed.
In addition to their ambulance services across New Zealand, St John provide first aid training courses, kits and supplies. For up-to-date first aid information including courses, visit www.stjohn.org.nz/First-Aid
This blog was written by Julie Scanlon for Kidspot New Zealand. Julie was sponsored by St John to undertake the St John First Aid Level 1 course. Click here for more information on this course.
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.