Before I had children and was still a working gal I volunteered to take British Red Cross first aid training for in the work place. Why not I thought? Work was paying for it, it was time out of the office and it’s a skill. Really and truly, just as with giving blood, my main point of choosing to do it at that time was to break up the day, do something different and get out of sitting behind my desk for a few hours! I was not ever happy working for a boring insurance company and took any opportunity I could to mix my days up a bit!
Saying that, once on the course I threw myself wholeheartedly into it. I may have slacked off a little (or even a LOT) in the office as I dreamed of acting and creativity amongst the grey insurance desks but if I was going to be in charge of administering first aid to a bunch of middle-aged +, over stressed and a lot of them, let’s face it, over weight men (there were a LOT of boozy lunches for my bosses it seemed) then I ought to know what I was doing! I actually really enjoyed the course and felt really good about knowing my stuff! It was easy to follow, informative and covered everything I needed. Even just knowing when to call for help and how was information I hadn’t realised I didn’t know properly. Did you know if you ring the international emergency number 112 then they can track you via GPS so if you’re not sure of your location it’s a much better option than 999? At the end of the course I was nervous to take the test but the instructors were very helpful and I passed without worry! I hoped, of course, that I would never need to use it and largely I didn’t. Thank goodness. There was the time a man from another floor called me to say he thought he was having a heart attack when in fact, after paramedics came, it was discovered he was suffering from indigestion (thankfully) and a haemophiliac caught her finger on a razor in her bag one day but aside from those two instances, which I knew how to deal with as far as my role went thanks to the training, it was all quiet, all good! Just how everyone hopes it will be!
So, I knew how to perform CPR, deal with cuts, burns, fainting and a whole manner of other things for adults but when I left my job to have children I realised that not only do far more accidents happen in the home but I had no idea what to do with children because the advice is entirely different. It has been my aim, ever since Florence was born, to attend a proper baby and child related first aid training course just like the one I did for the work place but although I hadn’t deliberately been putting it off, somehow the time just disappeared and still a proper course had not been taken. I’d been to a small talk on first aid for children at my SureStart Centre which was given by a paramedic and it armed me with a little bit of knowledge but not enough. Although better than nothing I still really wanted to take a proper course, something a bit more in-depth.
I obviously hope that I would never have to use first aid on a child, we all would of course, but being in charge of two little ones every single day and not knowing how to deal with something if something did happen? Well, it’s just not acceptable really is it? Not for me anyway. At the last Baby Show I attended a taster session from the British Red Cross where they spoke about their new initiative, the First Aid Challenge (which I wrote about here). Again I found out things I thought I knew but didn’t; I didn’t realise if someone is burned and you have no water to run on it that you can actually use bottled soft drinks like coca cola or even milk as a substitute. I decided I had to be booked on a course pronto! If for nothing else I needed to know just about the small stuff, children are always banging their heads and bumping their knees! Thankfully most of the time it’s nothing, Jimmy has a permanent bruise in one spot on his head where he bangs it but best to be forearmed I think!
The taster session was great but I wanted to know more – it’s so important!
Firstly I was super surprised to discover that the course for General Public Baby and Child First Aid Training is no more than £60 including VAT and that’s in London where it’s most expensive. In other parts of the country where rents are obviously lower, the cost of the course is just £45. Ok, so it’s not nothing but for five hours worth of training, whether you choose to do it in two evenings (like me) or one full day, I’d say it’s not bad. Covering many topics that all parents must worry about it has to be invaluable I think and as a parent, if someone bought this for me as a gift I’d be utterly thrilled to bits! I reckon this should be the thing work places buy their expectant Mum colleagues instead of baby grows and fluffy toys and friends should be clubbing together for a baby shower surprise gift rather than a spa day – pregnant women can’t even go in a sauna don’t you know! (You even get £5 off your course price if you sign up to the first aid challenge)!
So, off I’ve trundled for the last two evenings and although I can’t say I was looking forward to leaving the house in dark, cold and rainy January I think it’s one of the most worthwhile things I’ve done! Before I left for the first session I was thinking how nice it would be to just curl up on the sofa with my boy and girl for the evening instead but I’m surely glad I forced my lazy bum on the tube and did it because like I suspected, there was an awful lot I didn’t know still! I think from watching films we kind of assume we might just do the right thing but actually lots of the things like that, the way we deal with choking was a prime example for me and my class, can actually do more harm if we do it the way we see on television! Not only do techniques change with time and study but when things are on television they use a lot of artistic licence!
My class was full of pregnant women, their partners and other parents like me. A lot of them were new Fathers on their own and our instructor was Van who immediately made us feel welcome and at ease with her charming style of delivery and demonstration. It felt a little like an anti natal class at first as we all got to know each other and it wasn’t in the slightest intimidating. I guess people who want to go to things like this just aren’t going to be horrible so the atmosphere was friendly and it was in good company that I spent the course. Van was informative and answered all our questions in great detail checking if we were ok with her answers or if we needed more. On the one occasion that she didn’t know the answer she told us so. Where the class differed to the one I’d taken for in the workplace was that everyone had signed up for a personal reason and absolutely wanted to be there, there was no examination at the end and the practical work on each other was quite minimal and not very embarrassing for those worried about that aspect. (I think we only had to be patients and work on each other twice). We learned how to deal with many different situations until emergency services could arrive from CPR on babies and children to burns, bangs on the head, signs to look out for with illnesses such as meningitis and what to do, bleeding, losing consciousness, drowning, choking and many, many more! The course touched on everything I wanted it to and more; I can’t recommend going to one enough. As a parent I feel this something one must do if one can as it is so important. I feel like if I know the information and never have to use it that would be the best case scenario. I would hate to ever need it and not have a clue, that would be awful! Given an emergency situation now and perhaps I will freeze, I might forget or even still do the wrong thing but at least armed with this knowledge I have a chance of doing it right and I for one feel better knowing that.
Even if you really don’t want to take a course right now then do check out the British Red Cross website where you can download a free Red Cross First Aid app for your smart phone, watch demonstration videos and of course sign up for the First Aid Challenge.
Two evenings well spent I’d say, thanks British Red Cross and especially to Van who is a fab instructor.