Tag Archives: first aid

Qualified for Life

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Hello, you marvellous creature.  How’s the world been treating you this week?

One of the consequences of working on a play like Chris is Dead – “an awkwardly funny, shamelessly honest story about love, loss and splitting the phone bill”, if you’re interested- is that it reminds me and the cast of how unprepared we feel for life’s big events.

As we get older we are more and more likely to come across situations that require a lot from us, whether that’s mentally (“oh dear God, A Levels”), physically (“oh dear God, Freshers’ Week”) or emotionally (“oh dear God, the Friends finale”).  The bizarre thing is that, A Levels aside, we never feel that our qualifications actually qualify us to deal with what life throws at us, do we?

When I was doing a Paediatric First Aid course a couple months ago, I freely admit that I never expected to have to use much (if any) of the information.  When I ran into a genuine First Aid issue at work a couple of weeks later, I felt pretty sick.  I knew I had the know-how somewhere in my head, but what if I forgot something really important?  What if I got it wrong?

I did remember what to do, and the child was fine, but the point is that I felt shockingly under-prepared, even though I had technically been trained.  How much worse is it to have to deal with emergency situations that we can’t possibly be trained up for?

You can’t take a course in Guiding a Friend Through Their Spiritual Epiphany (Diploma) or do a GCSE in Moving House Without Getting Completely Destroyed by Stress (and Inexplicably Losing the Kettle).  There are no night schools for those of us who don’t know what to say to a bereaved loved one, and no one has yet thought to suggest a degree in the whys and wherefores of navigating a tricky divorce.  This seems impractical, unfair and, frankly, a perfectly decent enterprise concept gone to waste.

Everyone is afraid that they are under-qualified for life.  For example, my mum has five kids, a mortgage and her own food mixer, but she would be the first to admit that she doesn’t feel like a grown-up.  Even so, she has always managed to handle scary/difficult life situations brilliantly.  As long as we are doing our best, we’re probably handling the situation as well as anyone could expect or require of us.  In a way, life experience and ageing in general is our nebulous equivalent to gaining a foundation degree in Responding to Crises Without Completely Losing It & Actually Coming Out of the Whole Thing Pretty Well.

It might not be as reassuring as a bona fide certificate with signatures and foil seals and whatnot, but trusting yourself to be up to the challenge is a massive part of dealing with whatever the issue is.  Even if you’ve somehow lost a kettle.

Have a truly splendid Wednesday.

The Recovery Position is Not A Game

Hello, lovely reader!  How are you?  Sorry this is being posted so much later than usual.  Last night I was networking, then catching up on paperwork, and then my friends and I decided to play a very long game of “Who’s had the weirdest/worst/most unbelievable day?” and I didn’t get off the phone ’til stupid o’clock in the morning.  Ay, as they say, caramba.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post, you will already know that I have just completed a two day first aid training course, so I am now qualified (shiny certificate pending) to help people who are unwell.  Bizarrely, I had cause to use my first aid skills almost the second I got to Victoria station after training, which was very odd.  I did remember what I was supposed to do though, which was nice.

I also had this conversation with my friend David, whose girlfriend is one of my best buds from university (and is just a little bit strange, as you can see):

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And I am proud, but I also feel a bit sorry for David…being put into the recovery position when you don’t actually need to recover is quite bewildering.

I am not in the least surprised by my friend’s silly behaviour, because I’ve known her long enough to anticipate her responses to things.  This is obviously not one hundred percent foolproof, because people can always surprise you.  However, being able to work out what someone’s likely response to a given scenario (or blog post) will be means that you are very well-equipped to make people laugh, feel better about themselves, and generally enjoy their relationship with you.

It’s sometimes the case (and I’m definitely guilty of this) that you anticipate people’s reactions in a negative way, for example, assuming that you can’t tell a friend about a problem because they’re a story-topper, or assuming that your outspoken vegetarian friend will have no sympathy for your meat-induced bout of food poisoning.  Sometimes this may be true, but not always.  Sometimes the notoriously bad listener will pay attention, the wreckhead will suggest a quiet night in and the emotionally unavailable one will ask how you are.  With that in mind, let’s not put people into boxes.  They’d need air holes, for a start.

Have a Thursday of dreams, rainbows and, wherever possible, cake.

Staying Alive

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Hello there, you valuable member of society!  How’s it going?

Yesterday was my first in a two-day training course in paediatric first aid (or PFA for those in the know, darling).  It’s a strange experience, because it combines something incredibly important and worth knowing (i.e. how to save a life.  Thank you, The Fray) with something quite amusing: twelve strangers in a room spending all day pretending to resuscitate the world’s creepiest doll.

First aid is truly vital, and ordinary members of the public save lives all the time by knowing its procedures.  I am truly grateful to have this opportunity to learn more about it, and I only hope that if I am ever in a situation where I need to use my newly-found skills, I will be able to stay calm enough to remember what the heck I’m supposed to do.  Having said that, yesterday’s training gave me several moments of amusement, and I would like to share a few of them with you.

Firstly, the trainer was a lovely woman who was clearly very passionate about her work, but she was also pretty odd.  For example, she was explaining the importance of sensory perception when approaching a patient: “what can you see?  Blood, perhaps?  What can you hear?  Is their breathing a bit shallow or too quick?  What can you smell?  Maybe they’ve been sick.  What can you feel?  Are there any swellings or possible broken bones?”  All very sane and sensible advice, you might think.  Absolutely.  But the poor woman ruined her point by adding in the serious, long-suffering tones of someone who has genuinely had to deal with this scenario before, “Not taste, though.  That’s the only sense you mustn’t use.  Never taste your patient.”

Secondly, as you may already know, current thinking on CPR is that you should give thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths, and the compressions should be in a tempo of 100-120 compressions per minute.  Roughly speaking, this is a similar tempo to the Bee Gee’s hit Stayin’ Alive, which is a bit tongue in cheek, but makes it pretty memorable.  The only problem with this handy hint was that every single person in yesterday’s training session almost failed the CPR section, purely because we kept humming the song to ourselves and losing count of how many compressions we’d done.

Last but by no means least, our trainer was also one of those people who has some verbal peculiarities.  Some of them are the kind that would usually drive me up the wall, such as saying “pacific” when she meant “specific”.  However, there was one oddity that endeared her to me forever: when lecturing us on the importance of abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich Manoeuvre),  she kept referring to them as “abominable thrusts”.  I am ashamed to say that I had to excuse myself more than once to go and have a giggle in the corridor.

So, having unsuccessfully reassured you that I’m mature enough to save lives, I will go back for a second day of training and hope for better things.  You have yourself a merry little Wednesday.

The Duke of Edinburgh Wants to Help

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Hello, reader!  How goes the world with you today?

A couple days I ago I got offered a front of house job with a kids’ theatre company.  It’s only for a couple of weeks in June while their touring show is in London, but I’m very pleased about it.  I am also pretty chuffed that they’re sending me on a paediatric first aid course this week, even though it’s pretty far away in London terms, and it’s happening during another tube strike.  Wish me luck.

Yesterday I was on the phone to a friend of mine who works in a pub.  (He’s also an extremely talented actor, but don’t tell him I said that.  It’ll only go to his head, and I have to work with him in Edinburgh this summer.)  When I told him about the first aid thing, he retorted “well, I’ve got a…um…food hygiene certificate!”  First of all, first aid beats food hygiene in my humble opinion – come on, my certificate means I can save lives – and secondly, why are we competing (even in jest) over qualifications that neither of us is particularly fussed about?  We would both rather have theatre credits to our names than certificates in health and safety.  So why do we care?

I think all of us care about our qualifications, even the ones that have absolutely nothing to do with the career we’ve ended up pursuing.  This is true of those of us who have GCSEs in obscure subjects that we promptly forgot about the day we turned up to sixth form, and the Duke of Edinburgh Award victims who reminisce about their experiences with haunted expressions.  And why shouldn’t we?  They’re all achievements, for heaven’s sake.

Qualifications that have nothing to do with your main passion are an excellent thing, because they demonstrate that you’ve had a variety of different interests throughout your life, and consequently your personality seems all the more fascinating and multi-faceted.  Also, the only good thing about vamping up your CV to apply for jobs is remembering all of the amazing stuff you can do and have already done.  It’s nice to have a confidence boost just before you throw yourself into the harrowing world of job hunting, isn’t it?

The other great thing about having qualifications that are outside your main field of interest is that you never know when they’re going to come in handy.  My paediatric first aid qualification will be very valuable if I’m ever confronted with a choking child, and although I cannot express just how much I never, ever want that situation to occur, at least if it does I’ll be able to do something about it, which is nice.

Have a lovely bank holiday Monday!  May your day be filled with small but pleasant suprises.