By Rick Taillieu, Extension Coordinator, Alberta Canola
This week I spent a day doing professional development by taking the Emergency First Aid course offered by St. John Ambulance.
The surprising (and somewhat embarrassing) thing is that it took me this long in life to get first aid training. Despite 30 years in the workforce in jobs ranging from sales to farm labour to agriculture extension – it’s never been a requirement. In fact, it was never really even suggested until this summer that I get first aid training.
I look after a lot of events for Alberta Canola ranging from small meetings to field days to FarmTech and when something goes wrong with the projector, the food, or other details… its my job to get it looked after on the spot., in all the years I’ve looked after events or have been the person in charge, there’s never been a first aid emergency. Nobody with a serious fall, nobody choking and nobody having heart attack. I hope my luck continues.
So it made sense that if I’m the go to person at our events, I should be able to at least be able to offer some help if there is a medical emergency.
Honestly though, first aid training was always one of those things I meant to do, but never got around to until this week. When my wife and I had our first child we planned to take first aid training. That was 14 years ago. When we purchased an acreage and were no longer just minutes from a hospital or an ambulance – we once again decided that we should take a first aid course. That was 6 years ago. Again, I’m thankful that we have never had an emergency at our home that left us with lifelong regrets about putting off some basic first aid training.
So when I signed up for the course, I signed my wife up too. After all, what happens if I’m the one injured or an accident happens at home when I’m away?
St. John Ambulance offers courses several times a week at each of their training facilities in Alberta, so finding a day that works wasn’t challenge. The one-day Emergency First Aid Course was only $110 – a pretty cheap investment for 7 hours of training.
The course was very well organized and they have a maximum class size of 18 students. Everyone in our class except my wife and I were there as a condition of employment. There were people from fast food restaurants, grocery stores, energy companies and more.
The class itself was an efficient mixture of discussion, short videos and hands-on practice. The course taught us emergency scene management including dealing with falls, severe bleeding, choking, heart attacks, using an AED and more. Throughout the course it was very easy for all the students to imagine a co-worker or family member being in distress and that kept everyone focused. By the afternoon when we were practicing CPR on the dummies, everyone was committed to really learning how to potentially save a life. And by the end of the day, everyone was grateful for the chance to learn some basic first aid.
At the end of one day, both my wife and I know that if needed we could step in and confidently say “I’m a First Aider – can I help you?”. And then do our best to look after the person until the next level of help arrives.
Before we left, I bought a new first aid kit for our house. When I got home I put in the entrance bathroom and then told everyone not to touch it unless its an emergency… a real emergency.
Throughout the course, one of the things we did over an over was ask someone to call 911 and another person to get us a first aid kit. It wasn’t hard to imagine needing a first aid kit at home and then having one of my kids trying to gather supplies from three different places while someone was bleeding. So at least we are better prepared should we need it.
Here’s my advice…
- Get some first aid kits and make sure they are well stocked and people know where they are.
- Take a first aid course – St. John Ambulance makes it easy and at the end of it you’ll be glad you did.
St. John Ambulance website: http://www.sja.ca/
Note: Alberta OH&S has regulations for First Aiders and First Aid kits based on level of hazard, number of employees per shift and work site distance. An overview of these guidelines is available at http://www.sja.ca/English/Safety-Tips-and-Resources/Pages/Alberta-OHS-Regulations.aspx
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