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First aid and CPR in our daily lives

Friday, March 6, 2015

Richard Smith, MSC

“Schoolboy, 9, saves his choking little brother’s life hours after passing a first aid course.” This was the headline of an article which was published in the Daily Mail, June 18, 2013, by S Nolan. An extract from the article is as follows:

“A schoolboy passed a first aid course and then went home and saved his younger brother’s life just hours later. Quick-thinking James Reed stopped his three-year-old brother Harri, from choking after he stopped breathing and started to turn blue while eating a sandwich. James, a cadet volunteer with St John’s Ambulance, sprang into action and used the first aid skills he’d learned earlier that day and gave Harri three strong blows to the back. The youngster’s actions dislodged the piece of food from Harri’s windpipe and he was able to catch his breath again. James, of Mountain Ash, South Wales, said: ‘I had been shown what to do that day but I never thought I’d have to use it so quickly.”

Typically, people tend to panic during emergency cases but a trained individual doesn’t do that. Instead, immediate assistance is rendered. First aid is an emergency care that has to be given to an injured or a sick individual immediately and without any delay. It is that care provided prior to the arrival of any trained medical professional and involves a chronological sequencing of lifesaving medical techniques.

The key aims of first aid can be summarised in three key points sometimes known as The Three Ps:
Preserve life: the overriding aim of all medical care including first aid is to save lives and minimise the threat of death. Prevent further harm: it is also sometimes called preventing the condition from worsening, or danger of further injury. This entails external factors and involves moving the injured person away from the cause of harm and applying first aid techniques to prevent worsening of the condition.

Promote recovery: first aid also involves trying to start the recovery process from the illness or injury, and in some cases, might involve completing a treatment such as in the case of applying a plaster to a small wound. First aid’s intention is to lighten the situation. A non-doctor who is certified to have gone through a rigid training in performing first aid measures can truly save the life of a person. If there is an injury, for example, the bleeding can be stopped and then necessary medication can be applied. If the victim has stopped breathing, CPR can be used for the revival process.

When does first aid apply? The series of lifesaving techniques are useful whenever an emergency situation arises such as cuts, abrasions, heart attacks, bleeding, burns, eye injuries, electrocution, stings, bites, choking and many others; all of which have to be attended to at once. Incidents at home, on the road, at the workplace and during some recreational activities like at the beach, the play park, etc, may also require immediate attention and the performance of first aid as soon as possible. 

Importance of becoming trained in first aid and CPR: 
Emergencies happen at any time of the day. The truth is you never know when it will occur. If you get caught off guard, you are definitely on the losing end. It should be best practice that someone knows how to perform first aid and CPR at home, in the workplace and in the schools. However, every individual has the duty to get trained. The more people there are who can execute these lifesaving techniques, then the more potentials of disability will be eliminated. 

Would you know what to do if your child went into cardiac arrest? Calling 811 (ambulance in T&T) should always be the first step, but before medical professionals arrive, immediately performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will greatly increase his/her chance for survival. CPR is a life-saving technique that helps maintain some blood flow to the brain and heart and can help “buy time” until paramedics arrive with more advanced care. It therefore emphasises the need to take up the first aid and CPR training courses.

We all want to protect the people we love and care for—family, friends, co-workers, and of course, our children. Lack of knowledge as to the best course of action to be taken in case of a medical emergency can be a horrible and unforgiving experience. Possessing a basic medical knowledge can really do some good.

Learning basic first aid techniques and CPR can help you cope with an emergency. You may be able to keep a person breathing, reduce their pain or minimise the consequences of injury or sudden illness until an ambulance arrives. This could mean the difference between life and death for the injured. It is an excellent idea for family members or group of friends or co-workers to take a first aid and CPR course so that you can recognise an emergency and apply these principles until professional help arrives.

Contact the Caribbean Institute for Security and Public Safety for international certified first aid courses for individuals and organisations as well as a full range of courses on security supervision, law enforcement and OSH areas. Telephone us at 223-6999, e-mail: [email protected] or


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