When I sat down to think about the content of my first blog post, I started to think about my experience as a first aider, and how it feels to be in that position. It can be pretty scary! I always ask my learners if they have any fears, and often the same thing will come up. Fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of making the situation worse. I always tell them it is totally normal to feel that way. We are all human and it is natural for fear to be our initial reaction when faced with somebody who is ill or injured. But the wonderful thing is what happens next, the training kicks in.
Although I have a fair few years of first aid experience under my belt now, I can still remember the first time I was required to step up a first aider. As cabin crew I had been through six weeks of rigorous safety training which included Aviation Medicine; the name given to first aid training that needed to be in depth enough to keep our passengers safe and well on an aircraft 38,000 feet away from hospitals and medical professionals. I really enjoyed first aid in the classroom, but I didn’t really know what it would feel like to be a first aider in practice.
Putting the training into practice
I soon found out! On a night flight home from our destination, the cabin was in darkness and most of our passengers were sleeping. I was preparing drinks in the galley when a customer came out of the toilet nearby, collapsing to the floor as she experienced a seizure. It was the first time I’d witnessed a seizure; I was on my own and my initial reaction was definitely one of fear. However, I soon remembered my training, I knew what to do and as soon as I focused on that, the training kicked in…. Just as my instructors had said it would.
A quick danger assessment confirmed there was nothing that was a danger to me, but the lady had fallen next to a crew jump seat and her head was banging against it. I gently eased her away and grabbed a nearby blanket to cushion her head. As I had been taught, I stayed with the lady and timed her seizure, which ended after a couple of minutes. After the seizure the lady was not fully conscious, so I put her in the recovery position to protect her airway. Her husband had woken at this point, he came through and as she regained full consciousness, we helped her to her seat to rest. A seizure is very draining and tiring for the casualty, and the lady slept for the rest of our long-haul flight. I still remember the gratitude of the lady’s husband; that I was there to look after her. It is such a good feeling to be able to provide that care.
Believe in the training
Over the years I would face many more first aid incidents, some minor, some serious and yes sometimes it was scary, but remaining calm and following the steps taught in my training always saw me through. And now I pass that knowledge on to my students, and reassure them that they can do it, they can make a difference to that person in pain or discomfort. I know from experience that keeping your first aid training up to date is invaluable, I always came away from my own training feeling reassured and confident; ready to tackle anything that came my way. And now I love passing that feeling on to others.