first aid

Emergency emergency I

Jenny Sims explains why she took a first aid course – and how journalists can use their role to help save lives

confess my reasons for signing up to a first aid training course for journalists were probably more

personal than professional. Having written too many stories

over many years about preventable deaths as a result of anaphylactic shock, I’d become concerned about what I would do, apart from call 999, in a real-life situation if someone experienced a severe allergic reaction. I’d tinkered with the idea of doing some sort of first aid course, but did nothing about it. Then, when NUJ Training Wales recently offered a one day accredited course, I had no excuse but to enrol. The email flyer to photographers, reporters and communications specialists suggested “a recognised first aid qualification can really boost your CV and employability”. Whether you’re a freelancer or staffer, who can afford to ignore an opportunity to upskill and add an extra string to their bow these days? A small group of us were able to take it.

As promised, by the end of the day’s

hands-on (mostly on a dummy) course in Cardiff city centre, we had learned a significant amount about emergency first aid including assessing injuries, putting people in the recovery position, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), how to use a defibrillator, how to deal with choking, bleeding, poisoning, stroke and heart attacks, and much, much more. Communications specialist Sheila, by far the most knowledgeable of the group, I suspected of having done the course before. But no, she assured me, she was just a Holby City watcher. Course trainer Stephan

Wilcox, a paramedic with more than 30 years’ frontline NHS

experience, shared a wealth of information and anecdotes, gradually built up our confidence and gave us an insight into why people often walk by when they see someone injured or ill – even stepping over them as they lie on the ground.

In some cases, it is simply because they are afraid that if they intervene and inadvertently exacerbate the injury or cause harm, they might be sued. However, this is highly unlikely, since a parliamentary act has been introduced to protect such heroes and heroines. Unfortunately, the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 does not seem to be widely known by the general public. It asks: was the person acting for the benefit of society or any of its members? Demonstrating a predominantly responsible approach towards protecting the safety or other interests of others? Acting heroically by intervening in an emergency to assist an individual in danger? There’s a role here for the media in drawing attention to it, Wilcox seemed to suggest. People might be less

“ ”

There’s a role for the media. People might be less backward in coming forward if they were made aware of the law

backward in coming forward if they were aware the law is there to protect them should they intervene with good intention. And, maybe, more lives would be saved if they did. More lives could undoubtedly be

saved if they were aware of what to do in a medical emergency such as a serious allergic reaction. In the UK, 44 per cent of adults suffer from at least one allergy. Having done the course, I feel hugely

relieved that at least after calling 999 I now know how to help someone administer an adrenalin injection – and also how to administer it myself (after getting the person’s consent) if they are carrying an auto-injector device, commonly called an EpiPen. This is a brand name; it’s the biggest on the market and manufactured in the US. Two other auto-injector devices are available in the UK – Jext and Emerade; pharmacists, nurses and doctors, as well as the media, routinely use or rather misuse EpiPen as an umbrella term. People diagnosed with allergies should carry two auto-injectors, but many fail to do so. One reason in 2018 was that because of manufacturing problems of EpiPen, there was a global shortage. However we can help people with

first aid treatment, Wilcox drummed into us that accidents and incidents at work and their treatments should always be recorded ‘in case of a future event’. The NUJ’s health and safety committee chair Adam Christie is an expert on the legislation that requires employers “to provide adequate and appropriate equipment and facilities for enabling first aid to be given to employees”. He points out that

organisations must have suitably trained and qualified people to do

that or, if they only have a few staff, an ‘appointed person’. So maybe my course organisers

may be right that a first aid qualification can make you more employable My certificate’s in the post, I’m told.

theJournalist | 11

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