I had the offer of a free three-hour first aid course yesterday and jumped at the opportunity. Our teacher was trained in first aid, and teaches in schools and in industry. Some of the class didn’t bother turning up so there were only about seven of us in the end, which made for a small, compact group.
We went through the basics of the primary survey, using the DRABC sequence. Basically this means that you make a quick assessment of the scene to make sure there is no risk of any Danger to the casualty, bystanders and yourself. You then check to see if the casualty is conscious and gives any Response. There were few giggles when we tried this out with our partners. You should trying lying on the floor, pretending to be injured and unconscious, and not giggling when you are shaken by the shoulder and repeatedly asked ‘are you alright?’ At this point you should also shout for help, if anybody is nearby, but you should never leave the patient unattended. The next step is to check the Airways and to tilt the head and lift the chin of an unconscious patient until the airways are open. After this you need to check for ten seconds to see if the casualty is Breathing. If this isn’t the case then you must commence CPR.
The final step is then to check for any Circulatory problems. By now a call to the emergency services must be made, if it hasn’t been done already. So I now know that the initial survey sequence when coming across somebody who has been injured or in an accident is remembered using the mnemonic Doctor ABC.
After this the dummies (well heads and torsos, minus legs and arms) were brought out for practice. We had to ask (a dummy?) if they were alright, use the head tilt and chin lift to open the airways and then learned how to perform chest compressions with rescue breaths. Now if somebody is not breathing, I know how to position them, and myself, and perform 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths into the patient’s mouth, whilst pinching their nose to keep it closed. In addition we learned about hygiene and using special face masks or shields, in case of concerns about infection, and how to turn a patient on to their side if they vomited.
We were shown how to move a casualty into the recovery position and then had to practice on our partners. There was a short film demonstrating the Heimlich manoeuvre, alternated with firm blows between the shoulder blades in the event of choking.
We finished with a quick talk on how to treat somebody who may be having a heart attack or a stroke and how best to treat bleeding, burns, asthma attacks and seizures. All in all a very useful three hours, and we came away with a handy book Emergency First Aid Made Easy,
and a certificate that is valid for three years.
I’m not sure if I could put this all into practice in an emergency situation, but at least I have some basic knowledge.