Friday, February 08, 2013

First Aid

After spending a day in a first aid course, I'm left wondering why this isn't something that everyone is taught, and also surprised that it's taken me this long to learn CPR.

The course did have its oddities, just like every training course I've attended in this country. In all seriousness there was a segment of training called 'Breathing - The Basics', and if you've got this far in life without knowing the basics of breathing, I wonder what's kept you going. The final theory test was one of those masterful examples of ambiguous multiple choice questions: a person with BREATHING DIFFICULTIES will not be able to (a) move around actively or (b) speak in full sentences?

Well, which is it? And don't say both, because just like Highlander, There Can Only Be One.

Still, not to worry. There was occasional naffness, like the picture of Borat on every other slide in the training deck, or the forced cheerfulness, but it's better to be cheerful than worry about whether you're being artistically successful or not. And in any case (I think) it performed its key purpose well, of teaching some first aid fundamentals.

Now I think I could make a reasonable stab of bandaging someone (or bandage someone I've stabbed), and I know that CPR doesn't mean pumping somebody's chest five times and then stopping, so that's better than where I was this morning. I've never yet in this life been in a position where I need to apply any of these skills, but it's better to have than have not.

We watched a video from an Australian docusoap of a man being resuscitated. On the one hand it was incredible to watch somebody being literally brought back from the dead. On the other, I found it profoundly upsetting to watch somebody unconscious, face turning ashen grey, their brain making them twitch and gasp for air while their heart failed to beat. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age.

The instructor talked about shock, and fractures, and sprains, and I realised that I've survived a lot of these things in my life. Whether it was the relaxing feeling of going into shock after I rode into a tree in Japan in 1997, or having my car written off by an 18-wheeler in 2003, or having my fingers sliced open on rocks when I was racing in Hong Kong in 2008, or almost choking to death on a cheese sandwich, alone at home one lunchtime, I've either been highly injury- and accident-prone, or very lucky, or both.

Think of all those alternate-world mes, choked on cheese sandwiches, necks broken from falling downstairs while trying to put their jeans on both legs at once, crushed in their cars, bleeding out in the gutter after an after-pub-punch-up. I'm so fragile, yet so lucky to be around to say that.

And if you haven't been to a first aid course yourself, maybe you should.


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