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What it’s like to take a first aid course

First aid is a life skill and without it, lives can be lost, yet so many people don't know what to do in an emergency.

Jade O'Donoghue
12th February 2016
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A quick survey on our desk reveals only two out of eight of us know it with everyone else admitting they're pretty clueless. Since it's one of the most popular subjects here on Training and Courses, we sent Jade along to find out what it's like to take a first aid course. From breathing into dummies to learning how to treat burns, here's how she got on...


I've always felt I should take a first aid course but it's never been something I've particularly wanted to do. Compared to the likes of pottery or bread making (other courses I've done), first aid seemed boring, stuffy and just a bit of a chore to be perfectly honest. However, after going along to the three hour Emergency First Aid course at First Aid for Life, I realise I couldn't have been more wrong.

Entering the bright airy basement space they occupy, I was instantly greeted with welcoming faces and a cup of tea. Joined by a wide range of other learners - parents, people doing it for work, sports people and a nanny - I realised that unlike a lot of courses I'd taken before, this was one relevant to everyone. I wondered if this might make it harder to teach though, given the sheer breadth of the audience. I needn't have worried - the trainer had it covered...


Demonstrations, dummies and doing it for ourselves

We started out explaining our reasons for taking the course so that our teacher knew what to focus on, then before I'd even finished my tea, we were straight in. From CPR, to the recovery position, to what to look for in a person who is unconscious, we whizzed through. In three hours we really did cover a lot and the pace was quite fast with no breaks. Nothing dragged though because every piece of information we were given was vital to saving a life or preventing serious injury and with this in mind we were hooked on our trainer's every word.

When it came to breathing into the dummies, I was a little nervous; it didn’t seem very hygienic and I felt a bit silly treating a plastic doll as though it were real. Wet wipes assuaged my first fear and the trainer's demonstration meant that by the time it was our turn we almost believed the dummies were real people and that we were their only hope for survival.

We worked in groups which was useful because it meant we could share feedback and discuss what we found easy/hard and questions were encouraged, none too silly (for example when I asked, ‘How do you tell if someone is unconscious or just really drunk?'!).


Taking our knowledge home

At the end of the course we were given hand outs and a little booklet that we could refer to once we'd left. That sort of thing seemed a bit pointless to me since in an emergency it's unlikely you'll have time to go, 'Hold on, let me get my reference book!' and at the start when they said we'd have handouts to take away I worried a bit that this meant we wouldn't be taught everything.

The thing is though, First Aid for Life made these redundant simply because the course was so good. I didn't need the leaflets after because everything was presented in a way that was so simple and so easy to remember, I actually felt quite confident I would know what to do without referring to a book.

Of course, I did still give it a read on the train can never be too careful!


Serious yet interesting, and guaranteed to come in handy

Having completed the course, there's no doubt in my mind that everyone should learn first aid in some capacity and the skills I have gained will certainly serve me well should I be faced with an emergency of some kind. I also learned though that when it comes to first aid, to learn it effectively, in a way that will leave you confident of what to do in an emergency, you should definitely look for a course that can be tailored to your needs. A course provider who will ask you in advance about your motivation for learning will ensure that you leave with the knowledge you require, from the nanny who sat to my left and wanted to clue up for work, to the basketball coach who wanted to chat sport injuries, and that you’re confident that if the need arose, YOU could be the one to save a life.


If you’re interested in taking a first aid course, have a look at the full range here on Training and Courses

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