As I mentioned before, at the beginning of the year I asked the Guides what they’d like to do during 2014. One of their requests was that they wanted to learn First Aid. Although I knew that some things I could probably teach them myself (I have a degree in Health Promotion and previously worked as a Care Support Worker in a residential setting for about 4 years), we simply don’t have the equipment to teach them properly. So I reached out to St Andrew’s Ambulance and British Red Cross. I’ve supported British Red Cross for many years so I was really impressed (and pleased) with how quickly they responded to my e-mail, and grateful when they told me they had a volunteer willing to come for 3 evenings to teach our Guides all they needed to accomplish for their First Aid badge.
On our second week we were joined by four Resusci Anne dolls. Every time I see them I get reminded of the one I learned how to do CPR on when I was doing my First Aid badges as a Guide (there used to be 2) – the doll I learned on had a bit of a flatulence issue so when you blew into its mouth it farted (it wasn’t supposed to, I think there was a puncture in it). Many of our girls confessed their concerns about doing mouth to mouth on a stranger. Our First Aid instructors were fantastic at putting the girls minds at ease, and emphasising the importance of putting their own safety first, and that the most important thing is to do the chest compressions.
Two breaths and two rounds the of ‘Nellie the Elephant‘ (and repeat until paramedics take over) we hope would do some good work to saving a person’s life.
The girls also learned how to do bandages, slings, treating cuts, grazes, fractures, stings and lots more. The laughed at me getting the giggles while I was meant to be unconscious so the instructors could show them all how to put someone in the recovery position (I had just been taught by the same instructor in April for my Leadership Qualification so I knew what was going to happen and everything he was going to say word for word!).
British Red Cross did this completely for free with funding they have for working with school and youth groups. The sad part is that we were told that now a decision has been made that they have to concentrate their funding on specific types of youth groups so they probably won’t be allowed to come and teach Guide and Scout groups anymore. Personally I think that is a real shame as First Aid is a life skill that everyone needs because burns, fractures, cardiac arrests, seizures, fainting, bee stings, cuts could all happen to anyone. I think it’s also helpful when girls continually learn these skills. You do forget when you are not using them every day. Many of our Guides had done First Aid as Brownies and had forgotten a good chunk of it. Even I had forgotten how to do one of the slings since re-learning in April!
Coincidentally I attended an event in Edinburgh that some friends from my church had organised, and one of the speakers was a local A&E consultant gave a short talk about his work trying to reduce the number of deaths from cardiac arrest in Edinburgh, entitled ‘How to save a life before breakfast‘. One of the most important factors is a person getting responded to quickly. Only last Christmas a young teenager died after going into cardiac arrest while playing for a local football team in Edinburgh. It reminded me of the importance of why Guides have always learned these skills – to be prepared!
A HUGE thank you to the two volunteers from British Red Cross who took the time to come and share their skills and experience with our unit.