Video: How a few hours learning first aid can help YOU save a life
ACCORDING to the St John Ambulance reference book, less than one in 10 adults in the UK knows how to administer basic first aid.
Now imagine for a moment that your parents, grandparents or children are injured or fall ill and require medical assistance before the emergency services arrive. Then it soon becomes a pretty alarming statistic.
The good news is that learning basic first aid takes just three hours – and the skills you learn could save somebody's life one day.
Held at St John Ambulance headquarters, in Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes, the charity runs regular community first aid courses.
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On the Saturday I attended, we were welcomed by our trainer, Hillary, who explained that we would be focusing on how to deal with the five most common causes of needless death: choking, severe bleeding, heart attacks, blocked airways and a heart not beating.
She explained how what we would learn could mean the difference between a life lost and a life saved.
To be a first aider, all that is required is to be effective, safe and prompt, she said, which means there's no point running into a road without looking after witnessing a collision or you too could end up being a casualty.
It was an example that resonated with one of my fellow first aiders, Julie Edges, from Tetney.
Julie explained: "I used to work in a hairdressers and we did first aid training.
"I remember a girl leaving the salon and having a fit outside which caused her to wander into the road.
"We had to stop the traffic and get her to a safer place.
"I felt shaky afterwards but also good that we had known how to help her."
As we were asked to introduce ourselves to the group, Julie explained that she was there for a refresher.
She added: "My eight-month-old granddaughter comes to visit a lot and my elderly mother lives with us so I want to know that if an accident does happen, I will know what to do."
Donna Legard, from Habrough, explained that she is studying health and social care and also works part-time in the Women's Aid shop.
She said: "I've never done anything like this before but the course I am taking got me thinking about first aid.
"I think having these skills will give me far more confidence to deal with a medical emergency if I do witness one."
The final person on the course, Jason Cooper, from North Thoresby, has seen first-hand the life-saving impact first aid can have.
He used to work at North East Lincolnshire Council's leisure centres, dealing with first aid at swimming pools and Grimsby ice rink.
He explained: "I'm about to start work on the beach and I wanted to make sure my knowledge is up-to-date as things change over time.
"First aid has helped me to give CPR in the past and to deal with all kinds of cuts and bruises. It's definitely been a very valuable skill for me to have."
As the session began we learnt how to assess each situation carefully and to call for help before administering first aid.
I was embarrassed to realise I had no idea how to place somebody in the recovery position, and it was fascinating to learn the correct way to deal with adults or infants who are choking.
Perhaps the most simple but effective thing we learnt was how to use two fingers under the chin of a person who has fallen unconscious to gently tip their head back, opening up their airway.
When you take into account that 80 per cent of deaths after road traffic collisions are caused by airway problems, it's a very useful tip to know indeed.
The next community first aid course at Cleethorpes' branch of St John Ambulance will take place on Saturday, April 20, from 9.30am to 12.30pm. This is a certificated course and costs £25 plus VAT. To book or find out dates for future courses, call 01482 588564.
Learn the recovery position right now
THE recovery position is used to maintain an unconscious casualty who is breathing in a position that is safe and allows them to breathe more easily.
Here’s how to place an adult or a child aged one or above in the recovery position:
1. Kneel beside the casualty. Remove any spectacles and straighten their legs.
2. Place the arm nearest to you at right angles to the casualty’s body with their elbow bent and palm facing up.
3. Using your hand that is closest to the casualty’s head, reach across to their other arm. Link your fingers with their fingers and bring their arm across their chest. Place the back of their hand on the cheek that is closest to you.
4. With your other hand, grasp the casualty’s far leg just above the knee. Pull it up so their foot is flat on the floor.
5. Roll the casualty towards you, keeping their hand pressed against their cheek.
6. Adjust the casualty’s upper leg so that both their hip and knee are bent at right angles.
7. Tilt the casualty’s head back to keep their airway open and clear.
And here’s how to place an infant aged one or under in the recovery position:
1. Cradle the infant with their head pointing down to prevent them choking.
2. Support and protect the infant’s head with your hand.