A new generation of Guides learn First Aid…

The Guide First Aid badge needs to be renewed every two years for the Guides to retain their award. It was coming up for two years since we last did it in our unit, and so with many members requesting to learn we contacted our friend, Stefan who works for a first aid and occupational health company called Albacare.

Last time the Guides had some volunteers from British Red Cross, but sadly their funding no longer allows them to come into units for free. We are very lucky that Stefan, who is an experienced First Aider and trains the Scottish Ambulance Service (amongst others) is willing to offer his time and resources for free.

Over the last two sessions the Guides have learned about first response, guided defibrillators and some that we know are in buildings in the local area, CPR, cuts, wounds, shock, bandaging, contents of first aid kits… many of the Guides are on their P7 camp next week so we are having a week off First Aid, and then will resume for two more weeks to enable Stefan to teach them everything they need to know for the badge.

It’s also giving a little chance for us to help the Young Leaders with their YLQ, as with only 2 adult leaders, 1 unit helper and a full unit with increasing waiting list…it’s hard to find the time in meetings to get everything accomplished.

I’m also super happy that this year on Remembrance Sunday no first aid was required! Hurrah!



Heart to Start and First Aid with Senior Section…


Two girls learning how to do CPR & use defibrilators

When our newer subgroup of Senior Section started this term, they had three learning requests. One was to learn First Aid, the second to learn how to knit, the third to learn what the muslim faith is about as they were pretty sure the media portrayal wasn’t accurate and wanted understand more about it. We have managed to accomplish two out of three.

A generous local gave a donation to our Guide unit earlier this year and came along to the Guides’ Free Being Me exhibition. We got talking about what Guides and Senior Section do, and I had mentioned about us getting funding to learn First Aid. He gave me the contact for a friend of his who is a trainer with Albacare. . This man turned out to be just as generous – and for three evenings he came to our meetings, to do the British Heart Foundation’s Heart to Start course, brought along dummies that helped train the girls in CPR, using Defibrallors, doing CPR on babies and dealing with choking in children, babies and adults. Due to an incident that happened in a Scottish high school on the day of one of our meetings, we also had a long discussion about dealing with stab wounds too.

Because they refused payment for their time and expenses, we gave our trainers gifts to say Thank you.

And we hope that we will be able to work with them again to train more people in our community in First Aid skills. Because First Aid really can save lives.


Learning First Aid with the Guides…

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.

Welcoming the start of a new year at Guides


The week before it was all about the planning. Taking the girls ideas and feedback they’d given us last term and working out how we could do it this term.

E-mails, phone calls, term programmes, A LOT of printing and some supply shopping…

…and on then it was time to put the uniform back on for our first Guide meeting of the new school year.


Our Young Leader is now an Adult Leader in Training, and officially made her promise at the end of last term. We weren’t sure if all the girls on our register would return, but all of them did. We’ve only got 12 Guides this year to start with, the Brownie unit that ‘feeds’ into our unit meets on a different night so we keep losing the graduated Brownies to a Guide unit that meets on the same night as them. We were also aware that some of the girls are hiting 14 (a few already have) and we’d noticed a couple of them beginning to show signs that they were feeling a bit ‘old’ for Guides, and others really not ready yet to move onto Senior Section.

So we put a plan to the older girls which they seem excited about – for the oldest Guides who are 14 or will turn 14 this term to be in their own Patrol. As  a Patrol they are going to work on activities that are still Guide activities but are more like the sort of things they would do as Rangers/Senior Section. The other great thing is that they all remember our newest Adult leader from when she was still a Guide and asked her lots of about Senior Section. I’ve basically told the girls to ask her when I’m not there so they know they aren’t getting biased answers. 😉

The only down point was when I mentioned that there was a new uniform – the words ‘there’s a new uniform you can now get in the Girlguiding shop‘ were barely out of my mouth before the girls who apparently have seen pictures of it started passionately yelling about it (not in a good way). Two of the girls have grown out of their uniform and were most upset when they heard they couldn’t get the old one anymore. I’m glad for those of you who have seen it in person and told me it looks better than it did in the pictures. I said that to them, told them it is a bit like the Senior Section one just different colours and that if still felt very strongly about it when they saw it in person they should give feedback to Girlguiding about what they’d like the uniform to be like.

(Have any other Guiders faced this negative feedback from their Guides? How are you dealing with it?)

We did our Unit Guidelines, the girls have given me more ideas for the coming year and were really happy to find out that we’ve managed to organise a request they made at the beginning of the calendar year – to learn First Aid. We’re super excited to have a volunteer instructor from British Red Cross coming to teach First Aid to the girls for 3 evenings later this term. We’re going to be tying this in with a night just before Remembrance Sunday about what Girl Guides did during the World Wars.

Next week the girls will choose their Patrol Leaders and Patrol Seconds and pick what Go For It, Challlenge or Badge they want to work on during Patrol Nights this term.

Meanwhile, I’m off to get more ink cartridges for my poor overworked printer…

The Guiding year has begun!


Leadership Qualification: first aid



April 26th was a big day. I was still in my pyjamas putting my lunch together (priorities…food over clothing) when Jenny (fellow Senior Section leader) arrived at my front door. After I’d swapped my pyjamas for jeans we headed to the bus stop where we met one of the young leaders and the three of us hopped on a bus to the Edinburgh Girlguiding HQ.


Because we FINALLY had all managed to track down some First Aid training and book on.

The demise of the oh so helpful county calendar has led to us often not finding out about training until after the fact, and we’ve had words with County about the difficulties navigating the website and knowing where you can find information (if it’s even there).

Anyway. RANT OVER.

The training that Girlguiding Edinburgh does for new leaders (or leaders who have not managed to refresh their training in a while) is provided by one of my favourite charities: British Red Cross. We had two male trainers, and they were excellent. They explained everything really well, put everyone at ease and were willing to learn as much as we were (always the sign of a good trainer).

We got the chance to discover there are other Senior Section units opening up in Edinburgh and other leaders are out there. Often feeling unsupported, clueless to how to get a programme started, isolated but full of enthusiasm! The great thing about doing training is that you finally get to connect with leaders outside your unit/district/division. I now make a point of trying to engage with as many people as possible at any Girlguiding event I’m part of so I can stay in contact with any other Ranger/Senior Section folks I meet!

And of course, the most fun part was bandaging each other up. Our Guides’ young leader (about to become adult leader) snapped a picture of me on her phone which I haven’t seen, and I retaliated by taking a picture of her and Jenny with their arms in slings. 🙂

So now, I’m first aid trained and all I need to do now for my LQ is track down my mentor to get everything signed off. And find someone to observe me at a Senior Section meeting so I can complete my Senior Section Module 1 (my Guides one is complete already). I’ve done all the work. I’ve accounted. I’ve organised. I’ve evaluated. I’ve risk assessed. I’ve joined with other units and sections. And now I’ve bandaged, put people in the recovery position and done chest compressions on a resusci-annie.

I’m ready to be a qualified leader.

I think.

I hope.

I’ve pretty much been doing it for a couple of years now anyway? 🙂