Take a First Aid Course
Actions speak louder than words
It’s not a statistic everyone’s attuned to – in fact it’s a silent toll – but each year over 2000 New Zealanders, children and adults, are treated for cardiac arrest in our communities – only 14% survive beyond 30 days. Reducing numbers is no easy feat, but as our Out-of-hospital Cardiac Arrest Registry reports, the more Kiwis who knowhow to administer CPR and use a defibrillator – the greater the chance we have at saving lives.
These are sentiments shared by Hawke’s Bay local, Vanessa Fox. With two boys under three and a move to coastal Bay of Plenty in 2019, upping the ante on her first aid knowledge across the board wasn’t just a nice to-have, it was a must-do.
Life in the fast lane
“When we moved to Tauranga – baby number two on the way, no immediate family on hand – and one toddler on the go, I knew we were braced for a full-on ride,” says Vanessa. “Fast forward six months, COVID has actually made it easier for me to take up the first aid reins again because courses are run online and in person.”
Instead of a two-day practical course, Vanessa undertook three hours of online training, alongside a half day practicum, through a private first aid provider.
“I remember sitting a full two-day first aid course 14 years ago as part of my teacher training requirements – it was thoroughly helpful but long.”
Same same but different
And, whilst the topics covered in both introductory first aid courses were similar: CPR, treating burns and cuts, choking, poison, strokes and heart attacks, Vanessa was surprised at how much had changed in response techniques and procedures. “With CPR for instance, I learnt if you rescued someone who was drowning, instead of pulling them ashore and observing their breathing, you should immediately commence compression – 30 pumps and then two breaths. There’s more focus on getting the heart moving not the breathing,” she explains. “With severe lacerations – say someone in car accident – I didn’t realise just how tightly you should bind a wound. And, if there is bone sticking out you should bind around the bone – don’t try to move it or push it back in as this can cause greater complications.”
Braced for the unknown
Whilst Vanessa hasn’t had to put her wound binding to the test yet, as Murphy’s Law would have it, within 10 days of completing the course, she put her first aid skills to practise – three times – choking, ingesting and burns.
“Both boys choked on something on two separate occasions – fortunately I knew how to deal with it. If they’re breathing, you bend them over and help them to cough it up – don’t apply pressure or attempt to dislodge anything. If they’re not breathing, that’s when you apply force to the back.”
And, whilst Vanessa and her team of boys are hoping for a little more relax and recovery as opposed to surf and rescue when beach going this summer – she’s glad she’s armed herself with more than a few episodes of Baywatch. “You just never know – that’s the thing – car, boat, bike accident, someone standing on a jellyfish. At least if I find myself in any of those situations, I know what to do and what not to do – both equally important.”