How to save a life

dogLast week, Mum and I travelled to Hereford for a day of First Aid training with St John Ambulance – why Hereford I hear you ask? Answer is I have no idea, my manager booked it and Mum decided it might be useful for her to use in her job so off we went at 7am for our day trip.

Pretty apt for a First Aid course!!!

Pretty apt for a First Aid course!!!

We had a few revelations that day:

  • First Aid Training should be compulsory for everyone, not just school children. Everything we learnt was so relevant to every day life and there are so many simple techniques that could potentially save someone’s life.
  • Hereford Town Centre has had a makeover and its gorgeous – I would definitely recommend it for a day trip.
  • We drove past Tintern Abby on the way home and by that point it was dark and lit up- it was beautiful. I definitely want to make a trip there in the light.
  • I have realised my mums memory leaves a lot to be desired…
Even though you know best, you always follow that automated voice!!!

Even though you know best, you always follow that automated voice!!!

The drive to Hereford was gorgeous, even though we were initially angry at the sat nav for taking us across the welsh bridge; the route through Monmouth was beautiful. As we pulled up at The St John Ambulance village hall Mums first comment was, “Don’t think we will be getting a croissant and coffee on arrival”. She was right.

So creepy!!!

So creepy!!!

We walked into the 70s style village hall and out trainer, Debbie pointed at the Morrisons carrier bag and then in the direction of the kitchen and told us to make ourselves a cuppa, which was well needed. As we entered the kitchen we were greeted by a number of human facemasks, which were terrifying, however Mum and I managed to find the funny side.

He is choking - can you tell?

He is choking – can you tell?

Despite the dodgy first aid videos (no Oscars awarded for acting) and lack of croissants the whole day was great and we were lucky enough to have a brilliant group of people doing the training with us. In our group we had a man called William and his friend from work Pam who provided mum and I with many giggles every time we did a role-play as Pam would shout, “Can you hear me Willy?” “Tell me where it hurts Willy”.

SONY DSCOur trainer, Debbie was brilliant. She referred to the book when needed; however she related all of our training to real life situations, which personally I found so much easier to remember. She was warm, welcoming and made me feel confident in what I was doing.

I do not want to give you a minute to minute account of what we did as I do not think you will read my blog again, so I have decided to make a shortlist of the best facts we learnt which I hope you might take away and share with your loved ones:

Emergency numbers


  • 112 is the European Emergency number which you can call anywhere in Europe and you will be put through to an English speaking person.
  • If you are in the UK then it is better to use 112 instead of 999 as it will connect with your GPS signal and be able to place your location incase you lose signal or battery (999 does not have this information.)
  • If you are in contact with any children, then make sure they know this number!!!


Self explanatory!

Self explanatory!

  • Leave burns under a cold tap for at least 10 minutes. So many of us just run a burn under the tap for 2 minutes and walked away, however at this point you are only cooling down the nerve endings. In order to cool the skin and prevent a bad scar then it needs 10 minutes.
  • If someone has burnt all of their body – get them under a cold shower/hose straight away and do not let them move for at least 10 minutes – this could prevent serious wounds and scarring.
  • If possible, remove any jewelry that may restrict circulation to the wound
  • When cooled cover the burn with kitchen cling film or a clean gauze.
  • When treating burns do not remove anything sticking to the burn, do not use lotions or creams and do not use adhesive dressings as these could potentially make the burn worse.


There are different ways to cure choking dependent on the age of the person you are helping.


If the casualty is an infant:

  • Lay the body face down on your thigh whilst supporting their head and give them five back blows.
  • If this is not successful then place two fingers on the breastbone and push inwards and upwards towards the head. Check the mouth.
  • If the infant is still choking repeat the back blows and breastbone thrusts until the emergency services arrive.

If the casualty is a child or adult:

  • Encourage them to cough.
  • If they are clearly choking then ask then to bend over and if possible put their hands against a stable surface and give them 5 hard blows to the back in between their shoulder blades.
  • Do not be scared to apply a serious amount of pressure. If there is something blocking someone’s windpipe it will take a lot of strength to remove it.
  • If choking persists then you have to revert to an Abdominal Thrust (Heimlich Maneuver).
  • Stand behind the casualty and link your hands below their rib cage. Pull sharply inwards and upwards up to 5 times.
  • If the casualty is still choking repeat the back blows and abdominal thrusts until the emergency services can take over.

Heart Attack

Aspirin in a bottle

  • If someone is suffering from a heart attack and is breathing the best treatment is to keep them calm and reassure them until the emergency services arrive.
  • Whilst waiting for the ambulance, make the casualty as comfortable as possible by putting them in a half sitting position.
  • Make sure their head and shoulders are supported.
  • If possible place a coat or blanket under their knees for additional support.
  • If possible get the casualty to chew 300mg of aspirin. Do not let casualty take aspirin with water as this may prevent them from receiving surgery when they reach the hospital.

During the course we also learnt how to put a casualty into the recovery position and how to carry out CPR if the casualty is not breathing. Both of these skills are quite complicated to explain without a visual aid so I have provided links to videos, which will explain them better than I could:

Recovery Position 


St John Ambulance app is available to download from Apple’s App Store. It contains first aid procedure so that you always have information available wherever you are. The app includes audio commentary for some of the protocols, so your hands are free to provide first aid in an emergency.

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