Saturday, 10 September 2005

Confidence building

I was very fortunate that some years ago the company I was working for sent me on training courses in First Aid with the well known St. John Ambulance in the UK and, it is probably the most worthwhile thing I ever did in my life.

Just to blow my own trumpet (very un-English thing to do, I know), I was apparently only the second person ever to pass my particular course, which qualified me under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, with 100%.

First aid was something I had wanted to do anyway, after once witnessing a rather nasty accident involving a motorcyclist. I think I did OK organizing people and directing the traffic around the accident (I don’t know how, I just “found” myself doing this), but even so, I felt inadequate and guilty because I couldn’t help the guy. (In retrospect, I learned that doing nothing, beyond getting the bike engine turned off, was the right thing to "do.")

So when the opportunity to volunteer for the courses came up, I grabbed it.

And, I’ll never forget the words of the teacher who started her lecture on Emergency Aid by informing us, “Everyone dies of exactly the same thing; shortage of breath”.

Her point, which is entirely logical, when you think about it, is that shortage of breath may have a million and one different causes, but that really is the only thing you need worry about.

This teaches you to focus just on that and removes all the fear you might have had, like you think you won’t grasp First Aid or you think you need all sorts of complicated medical knowledge in order to learn it, which you don’t.

But it isn’t just coping with medical emergencies that learning First Aid helps you with. It boosts your self-confidence as you learn to assess and cope with all kinds of situations and daily stresses (medical or not) more calmly. You become more able to respond to situations and solve problems, rather than react to them.

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