First Aid courses: why everyone should do one
As I walked towards the supermarket, I saw a group of people gathered in an empty parking bay, staring down at something. Then I realised what they were staring at, and my blood ran cold. An elderly man was lying on the ground, his wife kneeling at his side – and nobody had called an ambulance or started First Aid. For the first time in my life I was thankful I had a First Aid certificate. Knowledge kept me calm (where a few weeks earlier I would have panicked) and enabled me to help the gentleman concerned and stop well-meaning onlookers from doing things that could have made a bad situation worse.
I've used my first aid skills a few times since both to help strangers and at home – and I’m forever grateful that my employer nominated me as the office first aider and sent me to do the course.
Unfortunately only a very small portion of Australians are First Aid trained, less than 5% in fact. Research shows while most people are willing to help out in a First Aid emergency, more than two thirds of people just don't know what do. Lack of or incorrect treatment can lead to increased severity of injuries that may have otherwise been avoidable with simple First Aid treatment. “Doing something is better than doing nothing when an accident happens” says Red Cross first aid trainer, Anthony Cameron.
Almost everyone will be involved in a crisis at some point in his or her life. Someone falls and can’t get up. Someone gets cut and can’t stop bleeding. Another person's heart fails. Knowing what to do in these situations can mean the difference between someone living or dying, between a temporary or permanent disability. “First aid is the first step in the chain of survival when disaster strikes” says Red Cross Deputy Operations Manager, Rebecca Buonsanto."
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The great thing is that first training is available across the country in forms to suit people of all ages and situations. You can even do a course online!
Of course, St John Ambulance and Red Cross are famous for their work as first aid trainers and providers, but there are also numerous private businesses that run courses. They range from Caring for Kids courses (a brilliant idea for any parent) to Elementary First Aid (aimed at 8 to 11-year-olds) and even Streetwise First Aid (ensures people with learning difficulties, language and literacy issues, have free access to life saving skills and accredited training.)
St John Ambulance CEO Tony Ahern says performing first aid before the ambulance arrives can often be the difference between life and death. “It can also prevent more serious injury. For example, we know that irreversible brain damage begins if you go more than four minutes without oxygen.” St John St John Ambulance General Manager James Sherriff says: “If you do know first aid, it’s surprising how the basic skills come back to you in that moment and you’re able to administer some basic help: even just ensuring the airway isn't blocked so the patient keeps breathing until paramedics arrive.”