Monday, 21 September 2009

Senior First Aid Certification - Why bother.....?

I've heard more than a few grumblings over the years from paddlers resenting the idea that to become a Sea Leader, guide or instructor, you need to have a valid Senior First Aid certificate. It's a course I've taken myself off to three times now since getting into kayaking & one I figured would come in handy some day. Besides a few minor emergencies with my kids and my clumsy self, I've been fortunate enough to never have to actually use the skills my mate, & St Johns Educator & First Aid guru, Bruce McNaughton has taught me at the refresher courses. That all changed on Saturday when I was driving through suburban Marrickville & spotted a guy slumped against his driving wheel, with a couple of cars behind him honking as he blocked their exit from a popular local market. I stopped the car & ran back to find him unconscious, with blue lips, not looking too cheery. I pulled him out of the car, told a shell-shocked bystander to call an ambo, got another guy to stop the traffic which was still trying to manoeuvre past, then put old mate into the recovery position, checked his airway, remembering Bruce's DR ABC (Danger - Response - Airway - Breathing - Circulation). Another bloke out of the crowd, now over a dozen, checked his pulse which was pretty weak, & I tried to check if he was breathing. Once we'd figured out that he was neither breathing nor had a pulse - a surprisingly difficult thing to be sure about - I started CPR. With Bruce's words flooding back, I gave the guy a couple of breaths, then set up to do the compressions when he let out a big snore like breath & started to splutter, his blue lips started to turn red again & I figured the emergency was over. We then kept an eye on his dodgy breathing for a few more minutes until the Ambo's arrived.
In the post-match questioning from the police, it was amazing that nobody else present - more than 20 in the end - had any first aid skills, and basically they would have stood around & watched this poor dude expire while waiting for the ambulance. Although I've previously never done anything so drastic before, it's a tribute to the training you get from Bruce & the St Johns people that you have a reasonable idea of what to do, even two years removed from my last refresher. The moral of the story, if you don't have First Aid qualifications, seriously consider getting them. For a sea kayakers, especially those of us who from time to time deliberately go looking for adventure, it's something you owe your fellow paddlers. I think it's one of those civic responsibilities that we should all have at some level, preferably from a first rate educator like St Johns. You can check the course options HERE. I can guarantee that more than a few of the powerless spectators on the weekend will be heading off to research the getting of First Aid quals. A couple of them were really traumatised that they didn't know what to do & were silently cursing themselves as the poor dude on the ground went a deeper & deeper shade of blue. Marrickville Police range me on Saturday night to say that the guy was OK & was released from hospital on Sunday night, all is well that ends well. First Aid certification.....? Please bother...


Anonymous Greg Simson said...

well done. I have a basic qualification but still hope I don't have to use it, but as you just never know.

21 September 2009 12:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Mark, good feeling isn't it.

John A

21 September 2009 13:58  
Blogger Mark Sundin - Expedition Kayaks said...

G'day John & Greg, it's nice to know that you get a good bunch of training from the St Johns guys, and that you're capable of making a difference if you need to. I'd say I still haven't quite got my head around the whole episode just yet, but it's good that the poor bugger isn't pushing daisies...

21 September 2009 14:06  
Anonymous Dee said...

Gee Mark, I got goosebumps just reading that....
Bruce has trained me too - well worth the time commitment involved.

21 September 2009 18:00  
Anonymous Geoff said...

Hi Mark,
Fantastic effort mate. Just goes to show how valuable a bit of training can be. I am fortunate that my workplace pays for me to train to Workplace Level 2 and then pays me to have it :-) But also worth noting, since during such situations it is really easy to lose your cool, there is a neat little application for the iPhone called First Aid that guides you through the basics. Simple enough to use in an emergency.


21 September 2009 22:40  
Anonymous Dee said...

Thinking about all this today, and Bruce's training.....did you use gloves and/or face shield Mark? If not, did you hesitate and think about possible consequences for you?
Do you carry a first aid kit in your car?

22 September 2009 20:18  
Blogger Mark Sundin - Expedition Kayaks said...

Yes to a kit in my car, but I was driving Nicoles at the time....
So, yes I did think about the consequences of the CPR with no shield for a split second, but what can you do? The poor guy was dead if I decided to pull he pin without a shield. I had a precautionary test today for all the blood borne nasties, but the chances of catching anything are pretty remote (no blood in this incident).

22 September 2009 20:53  
Blogger brad mcpherson said...

Well done Mark. After many years in the surf club, I've done numerous rescues and been involved in some emergencies. I found you mostly end up pretty worked up about it and constantly think if you did the best you could. If you can, doing the Bronze medallion at your local surf club is an excellent attainment. You will learn sea specific techniques and rescue from water craft. Couple this with your St Johns and you'd be pretty proficient in the kayaking world.
I'm glad you got a positive story to tell. A great lesson.

23 September 2009 08:59  
Blogger Mark Sundin - Expedition Kayaks said...

Like you mate, I got my Bronze Medallion in the surf club many years ago, and it's a great warter confidence qualification too. The guy who talught me at the St Johns course, a fellow paddler & all round good bloke, Bruce McNaughton, runs sea kayak specific first aid courses if anyone is intersted. He's done a few for the NSWSKC and gets rave reviews for the course. If anyone's interesed I can put you in touch with Bruce.

23 September 2009 09:10  
Blogger Alan said...

Good job Mark.
I've been trained as a lifeguard, and later kayak instructor since the late 70's. Thankfully I have never had to use it (even through Caving, WW kayaking, hillwalking and etc!. (Came close once but was beaten to it by a nurse). My wife however has saved a baby from choking, whilst the poor mum freaked! My daughter is now trained and works as a lifeguard - a well paid job for a student. The kids here in Aus also get some training from school which is great.
Finally I would suggest to anyone
(my refresher is Monday as it happens!)

Alan M (QSKC)

8 October 2009 20:46  

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