First aid: Better to be handy helper than passive bystander

I had been meaning to do a first aid course for a while now in part because I have always thought that I would like to be a useful person in a crisis or an accident rather than a bystander observing at the scene before me. However, it was out of necessity I started looking for an appropriate course. My partner is a photographer and we work together running workshops throughout the year, as well as finding some seriously remote locations to shoot for his ever expanding portfolio.

Paul, like many of us, is also not great with blood or anything medical. Out of the two of us it just made more sense I get the training rather than him. I think it was also his way of giving me a bit more responsibility on our workshops, that or he didn’t want to be responsible for the extra 4kg of kit I would have to carry – more on that later.

As luck would have it, a regular attendee of our workshops is also a scout leader and really knows his stuff when it comes to first aid, hiking, and basic survival and happened to know of someone that could train me and also include the Outdoor Pursuits First Aid course as well as the First Aid at Work. 

Jay Dodson is absolutely brilliant as a First Aid trainer. His knowledge is extensive and his experience with the outdoors was particularly valuable in helping us appreciate how important it was that we understand the training we were given. Training took place at the Reading Lake Hotel which is a great location for outdoor activities. Sadly, the hotel itself has suffered considerable fire damage, but the outbuildings provide a great location for our course. 

So there I was, with a group of scouts and their leaders, armed with my pen and pad ready to absorb anything and everything First Aid related, but this was not school and Jay’s approach to teaching was a little different to what I had experienced before. 

Firstly, he made it fun. Full of energy and a sense of humour, no question was irrelevant and Jay’s way of engaging his students was one I will definitely try to emulate.

sida yoga first aid training course cprI was quite ashamed at how little I knew. I vaguely remember doing my First Aid badge when I was a Brownie and  being grossed out that I had to stick my fingers down someones throat to check the airway was clear before I give CPR (thankfully we don’t do that any more as there is a risk you could lose your finger so tilting the head back is now the correct way). Aside from that, I realised at the beginning of the weekend how important it was I learnt everything I could.

CPR is also not as intimidating as I initially thought. I was surprised at how much my own hands hurt from pressing the chest and how quickly you become tired but it was a lot easier than I had built up in my mind. Singing ‘Nellie the Elephant’ in your head is the correct timing for compressions which did make me laugh despite the serious subject matter. I even managed to get Jay on video demonstrating this, but I don’t think he would thank me if I posted it here. 

Jay broke everything down and went through the steps a first aider needs to go through before someone more qualified shows up. He also gave us some key words that are helpful when calling the emergency services for help. While I found some of the scenarios we discussed a little alarming, I was comforted by the fact that I would no longer be a passive bystander if I found someone who was ill or injured. 

first aid kit yoga sidayoga course We also learnt what should be in our first aid kit. There are so many great kits available to buy with all the contents you need but Jay also included what a scout’s first aid kit could include in addition to standard kits which I found particularly useful. I am not a scout but a lot of the work we do both for yoga and photography takes place outside and I found myself adding a few extras to my first aid shopping list, such as dehydration sachets and cake. Finally, sugary goodness can be medicine! Jokes aside, its good to have something like this in a bag if you are likely to be in an environment where you might get hypothermia – who knew? I didn’t.

The second day mainly took place outside. In my ignorance, I thought that we would be spending most of our time in a classroom and got the email about it while I was in Venice a few days before so I was a tad unprepared. With only my fancy boots, and leather jacket I wasn’t really kitted out for a day in the mud. Thankfully a trip to the supermarket meant I managed to buy some particularly unattractive trainers and kid’s reindeer gloves for the bargain price of £6 and managed to borrow the rest from my friend. 

It had been raining all week so I wasn’t hopeful for the good old British weather but it managed to behave for the time we needed it to. Jay started the second day by placing a variety of items on a table and asking us what we would take out for a hike in a remote location. I had seen enough survival programmes to know I would probably be hopeless in this challenge but I found I wasn’t too incompetent – the first day training must have sunk in!

When you pick your essentials you also have to think about the weight you are carrying. Yoga has certainly helped me be a stronger person physically but there is only so much I can carry before my muscles start to ache. I am also guilty of overpacking. If I am going away for one week, I usually pack enough clothes for two. This exercise enabled us to really think about what we were putting into our backpacks. By the time we were finished we had around 4kg. It may seem a lot but 2kg of that was extra water. 

sida yoga first aid training course outdoor pursuits survivalWe then ventured outside and took part in a role-play where each of us took turns playing the ‘injured victim’ and the other two people would be the first aiders, with one person filling out a casualty card. The importance of the casualty card is extremely significant if you are in a remote environment. It is worth spending the time to fill the card out thoroughly so you can relay as detailed information as possible to the emergency services. I found this particularly useful as it also served as a memory prompt for the first aider. A role play is of course extremely different to the real thing and it is easy for anyone to forget what they could be doing to help, so for me the cards were great.

I am definitely more confident after my weekend in Reading. I met some really kind people and learnt far more than I ever expected to. You might be wondering why I have chosen to write this as a blog post, I mean what has it got to do with yoga? I guess I felt it was appropriate because I feel everyone should have some knowledge of first aid. As a self employed person I felt even more of a responsibility in arming myself with first aid skills to be as safe as possible. 

As long as you are mindful and aware when you practise yoga and never do anything that causes pain you are extremely unlikely to be in a situation where you may need first aid. My point is, if there is someone around who happens to know a little bit about the subject and god forbid you hurt yourself, wouldn’t you rather they come to your aid while you wait for someone more qualified than a passive bystander? I know I would.


Vic xxo


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