Tuesday, 1 February 2011

First Aid again

I'm presently renewing my first aid course; yes, it's that time already? It's all very exciting stuff and always fun to see which protocols have changed, what we have to remember to forget and which way we're supposed to CPR this time. Is it one to fifteen, two to thirty, one hundred compressions per minute and do we sing Nelly the Elephant? It changes every time and this time is no exception. For us it's the rate, but something interesting has also changed with basic courses.

It would appear that in basic first aid courses, mouth to mouth is specifically no longer being taught. This is due to analysis showing a significant number of trained first aiders had stood by during medical emergencies because they did not want to perform mouth to mouth. With this in mind, it was deemed better to not teach it at all, because people would at least get on with the chest compressions and give the casualty a better than zero chance.

There are a couple of facts to remember about first aid. The first is that in the UK, there has never been a single piece of successful litigation against a first aider. Even when people mucked up and even if the casualty died, people tried their best and there was no case to be made. If you crack on with CPR and crack some ribs, and the person ends up breathing again, then do you really think they are going to sue you?

The second thing is that if you are a trained first aider, there is nothing that says you must perform first aid. If you come across a road traffic accident, there's blood and brains everywhere and it just makes you feel sick, then you don't have to dive in, gloveless and give mouth to mouth to people who might cough up their lungs over you. If all you can do is call the ambulance and give a decent account of what's going on, then you have helped every person there.

So, if you find me, unconscious, bleeding like mad and you can't remember how to put a dressing on, and if all you do is call an ambulance, maintain my airway and put direct pressure on my wound through the barrier of a crisp packet, I promise I won't sue you and I won't think any less of you for forgetting to check my capillary refill rate.

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