Rather unexpectedly last week saw me become a first aider — an e-mail went around Monday morning that offered a place on the 3 day course starting the next day and before I knew it I’d responded with my interest, and here I am: I’m a first aider.
A couple of months ago I was stood on a corner not too far from work when a lady stood beside me was no longer standing but having a seizure on the floor. I was on the phone talking to my father at the time and when she went I froze, I didn’t know what to do. I’d vague memories from my appointed person days of yore (when I was a nightclub manager) but nothing tangible returned. I was used to bottlings and throttlings — once witnessed an eye get gouged out but had dedicated responders around me so did as employed, I monitored the situation for the report — but this lady was no victim of drunken violence but having a seizure, and it disturbed me. It wasn’t the fact that she was having a seizure, I’ve seen disturbing things before, but the fact that she was in need and I couldn’t help her; I didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, an elderly gentleman quickly arrived and he knew what needed to be done and he did it, and I’m grateful he was there. I decided that this knowledge-hole of mine was intolerable and that I’d learn at the first opportunity, and that need reacted before I even knew what was happening around me.
It transpires that when someone is having a seizure you do nothing, exactly what I was doing — instead of flapping, though, you make sure they can’t injure themselves further, leave them to it, observe them, and dial 999 (especially if you don’t know them). Once the seizure is done you check their breathing and responsiveness, and if they’re breathing but not responsive then you place them on their side (formally known as the recovery position). If they are not breathing then you breathe for them — 30 chest compressions, 2 breathes, 30 chest compressions, 2 breathes — until the paramedics arrive. If available, an automated external defibrillator (AED) should be used in conjunction with our cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) of them. An AED is foolproof — all you’ve got to do is follow its instructions. It speaks and everything.
It was a good course — the trainer, either a Malcolm or Martin, made jovial the seriousness of what we’re doing. He didn’t make light of first aid situations but had a tongue like mine, wry and blunt, and I can get on with that. Of those in training with me, now that I know them better, I feel confident in ourselves. We are a team, and teamwork makes the dream work, so if something occurs I feel confident that I can call on them and they’ll come running — I think there’s a rule of ‘no running’ at Portsmouth Water, I do this sort of run when the phone rings and I’m not near my desk and I get told to walk. I’m sorry Neville, our Director, but we saved Annie so she can be a victim again, and if we have to run to save a real Annie then we will, to hell with your rules.
Now that I’m a bona fide first aider I feel a great responsibility upon my shoulders — I’ve visions of myself zooming to the rescue of someone in need — and I’ve discovered that there’s so much I don’t know, and I need to know everything just incase. I’d rather know it and not need it than go huh? The problem, though: There’s been so much doubt thrown around that I doubt myself, it is a conditioned reaction. I am not as committed to doubting myself over my first aid skills as I was with my ability to answer the phone at Portsmouth Water — this less-doubt I attribute to my team being human — but I do still doubt myself, and know I shouldn’t. Bullies mean nothing. Should I happen upon them in need of CPR, though, I will be there giving them 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths in time to ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ — I’ll want them to live so I can despise them for longer.