Learning First Aid [64]

By Michael Steinfeld

I am sure that you can picture this situation. You are out kayaking and attempting a beach landing with fellow kayakers. A big wave follows and someone is dumped. You hope that they roll up or wet exit, but what if they don’t and you see your mate struggling. Do you know what to do? Knowing how to deal with this situation may be the difference between their life and death. Not knowing what to do is just plain crazy. The urge to come to somebody’s assistance is a basic response to a dire situation and may apply in other life events. As they say in the Scouts “be prepared”.

One weekend in late March, Bruce McNaughton, club member and St John’s educator, taught 13 club members first aid. Bruce started by handing out bags containing the official first aid book, bandages and a discount voucher. Then it was off to work.

There is a set procedure to follow when you administer first aid. The first thing you learn is that there is no point coming to assist if it will put you in danger. You have to work out from afar whether it is safe to enter the scene. If it is, you take a couple of deep breaths then move in to assist.

You seek a response from the person and assess their situation. If necessary, you call for help. You can dial either 000 or 112 from a mobile for the emergency services. Next, you determine whether the person is breathing. The old method of finding a pulse is unnecessary. If they are not breathing you reach for your first aid kit, (which should be an essential part of your kayaking equipment) don your gloves and take out your facemask. Breathing takes priority over all else and you may need to clear their airway by placing the person on their side.

If CPR is needed then you place the person on their back. The method of administering CPR has changed over the years and the new model relies on two breaths in and then 30 pumps on the lower end of the chest bones, repeated five times per cycles. This continues until breathing is restored or help arrives.

If the person remains unconscious but breathing is established you put them on their side and assess their other injuries. If breathing is not a problem, and an impact collision has occurred, then it is best not to move the person but wait for help to arrive. If bleeding is a problem then you must dress the wound.

Role playing and resuscitating the dummy was all part of the two days of learning. Other first aid tips included how to treat bee stings (ice) and snakebites (applying a bandage to reduce bloodflow to reduce flow of venom through the lymphatic system).

To obtain the Senior First Aid Certificate we had to pass a multiple choice exam and practical role play, which was not too difficult. In all, the course is an essential life skill, which you owe to your family and friends to undertake. The Club is especially lucky that Bruce is able to teach the course at a discount to members. Bruce has also indicated that he is willing to teach the course each year if there are the numbers. He will be augmenting the course to take into account first aid particularly relevant to kayakers and remote area first aid.

Thanks also go to Richard McNeall for the organising the event.

The next course will run when people want. Maybe one after Christmas and one day refresher for those who have a current ticket. This will be decided by demand and interest.