Diary of a First Aid trainee: A Lesson for Life

On February 25th, 2013, posted in: Featured, First Aid, News, Service, Students by

Tags: , ,

“You are number one!” Hearing this at the very first session of a first aid course was definitely not what I was expecting. Perhaps stories of selfless acts of courage or inspiring tales of good Samaritans would have come as less of a surprise. After all, we’d all signed up for one reason: to help people. It had been too easy to imagine my doing just that: picture perfect drama unfolding around my patient as I worked. Within the first five minutes of the course, my foolish fantasy was shattered.

It’s easy to spout fountains of words. Using terms like “asphyxia”, “cardiac arrest” and “angina pectoris” can enhance your speech until it practically drips with the promise of intelligence. After receiving our first aid kits and text books, and after a few light-hearted jokes, any nervousness had dissolved. We were ready, with open minds, to learn all about those complicated medical conditions.

However, whether it was hypoxia or CPR, the reality of what we were learning was quickly driven home. We were studying how to save someone’s life. One tiny mistake in an emergency and the patient, or even we, could die. It was a bitter pill to swallow. Before treating anyone, we had to observe and plan our actions. Above all, we had to put our own lives above the patient’s. If helping a patient meant endangering our lives, we had to stand back.

All the leaden responsibility, and the information that came with it, might have been too much if I were on my own. Luckily for me, I wasn’t. We were all in it together, and our instructor kept us giggling, despite the seriousness of the subject matter. At the end of the second session, after learning about aspyxia, asthma, heart attacks and angina pectoris, and how to perform CPR and artificial resuccitation, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to more.

 Nicole Wentzel