Skills that could save a life

The char­ity St John Am­bu­lance has launched a hard-hit­ting cam­paign de­pict­ing five com­mon sce­nar­ios in which first aid could have been the dif­fer­ence be­tween a life lost and a life saved. here JENNY COR­NISH finds out how it can be the sim­ple things which m

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News -

ASUR­VEY car­ried out by St John Am­bu­lance re­vealed some shock­ing statis­tics about our first aid knowl­edge – or lack of it.

In the East of Eng­land, the char­ity found that more than half of the peo­ple sur­veyed wouldn’t feel con­fi­dent try­ing to save a life, while nearly a quar­ter would do noth­ing and wait for an am­bu­lance to ar­rive or hope that a passer-by knows first aid,

The peo­ple who would know, of course are those trained by St John, and the char­ity is de­ter­mined to teach these vi­tal first aid skills to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble.

Kevin God­dard (49), from Stil­ton, is the su­per­in­ten­dent of the char­ity’s Peter­bor­ough di­vi­sion, which has about 25 vol­un­teers and a sim­i­lar num­ber of young cadets.

He says even very ba­sic skills can help save some­one’s life.

“What I usu­ally say to peo­ple is if they just re­mem­ber to put some­one in the re­cov­ery po­si­tion and keep the air­way open, that will save some­one’s life,” he said.

Mr God­dard, who works as a pro­duc­tion man­ager in a brick­yard, has been a firstaider since 1989 and has been in St John Am­bu­lance for 11 years.

He got in­volved when his son was born. “It was just to give me that bit of ex­tra knowl­edge in case any­thing hap­pened,” he said.

“There’s a wide cross-sec­tion of peo­ple that come, we’ve got from young to old, busi­ness­men to labour­ers, peo­ple who want to put some­thing back, peo­ple who want to keep their skills up.

“Some want a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of first aid, some want a full-blown am­bu­lance qual­i­fi­ca­tion, some are quite happy just to do fund-rais­ing.

“It’s not go­ing to be for ev­ery per­son, but come along and do as lit­tle or as much as you want and see how you get on. It re­ally de­pends where you want to go with it.”

St John Am­bu­lance vol­un­teers turn up at a wide range of pub­lic events as well as car­ry­ing out train­ing ses­sions with mem­bers of the pub­lic.

“The things we do are very var­ied – it de­pends on the level of your qualifications,” said Mr God­dard.

“We’ve got things like the Green Fes­ti­val, which will re­quire first-aiders, right up to back­ing up the NHS with our am­bu­lance crews. We also do train­ing com­mer­cially and vol­un­tar­ily for the com­mu­nity.

“The ba­sic mem­bers have a gen­eral un­der­stand­ing of first aid. Then that goes right up to mem­bers who are qual­i­fied to do pa­tient trans­fer and emer­gency work.

“We’ve got a fleet of am­bu­lances that can back up the NHS, mainly for GP ur­gent calls, if the GP goes round and says you need to go to hos­pi­tal, we would do that. We could be asked to trans­fer pa­tients from hos­pi­tal to home or back up a para­medic.

“When there were the 7-7 bomb­ings, we were put on high alert and the London crews would have gone along to help.

“We could be asked to cover the East of Eng­land Show, or the Great East­ern Run. The NHS was stretched through the win­ter pe­riod so we would take the low pri­or­ity ca­su­al­ties and leave them to do the emer­gency work.”

Ca­role Pell (50), from Peter­bor­ough, has been in St John Am­bu­lance for more than 12 years.

She worked as a clerk in the crown court un­til she be­gan work­ing for the or­gan­i­sa­tion full-time ear­lier this year as the county sec­re­tary and mem­ber­ship co­or­di­na­tor.

In her vol­un­tary role, Mrs Pell is the as­sis­tant county child and vul­ner­a­ble adult of­fi­cer. St John Am­bu­lance is prac­ti­cally in the blood – her mother and fa­ther were mem­bers and her daugh­ters have also been in­volved in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Mrs Pell says she also joined af­ter her chil­dren were born as she wanted to im­prove her first aid skills.

“I be­lieve very strongly in the roles that we ful­fil and I want to do my best to make a dif­fer­ence for peo­ple,” she said. “We def­i­nitely know that we can make so much dif­fer­ence to peo­ple’s lives. I think first aid skills should be taught in all schools. Even some­thing as sim­ple as putting some­one into the re­cov­ery po­si­tion can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death.

“I’ve taught school­child­ren, young chil­dren, how to put some­one in the re­cov­ery po­si­tion – even a young child can move a fully grown adult into the re­cov­ery po­si­tion, no prob­lem.”

She re­mem­bers very clearly one in­ci­dent from the East of Eng­land Show­ground many years ago.

“I came across some­body who was hav­ing a heart at­tack,” she said. “I was in the right place at the time and I knew ex­actly what was needed.

“For­tu­nately he was still con­scious. I quickly di­ag­nosed what was wrong with him and called for ad­vanced care. We had an am­bu­lance crew on site and a doc­tor. The doc­tor gave him clot-bust­ing drugs and we got him into hos­pi­tal straight away. I did what I could and the gen­tle­man sur­vived.”

How­ever, the help the vol­un­teers give isn’t al­ways as dra­matic. “Some­times it’s just a lot of re­as­sur­ance, some­times it’s just putting a plas­ter on for some­one,” said Mrs Pell.

The train­ing is also a very im­por­tant part of the role. “We’re com­mit­ted to train­ing as many mem­bers of the pub­lic as we can,” she said.

“We trained a group of driv­ing in­struc­tors re­cently and now if they’re out on a driv­ing les­son and they come across a road ac­ci­dent, they might be the ones that can pre­serve some­one’s life un­til the emer­gency ser­vices ar­rive.”

Jamie Adams, from Peter­bor­ough, is 32 now and has been a mem­ber of St John Am­bu­lance since he was nine years old.

Pic­ture: AlAn

EX­TRA KNOWL­EDGE: Kevin God­dard, who is the su­per­in­ten­dent of the Peter­bor­ough di­vi­sion, was in­spired to join af­ter his son was born. (METP-08-0810AS103)

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