Katy Guest: Slip on a tight jumper and you can save a life

We must learn first aid, St John Ambulance says. I did

Share
Related Topics

Goodness, things have changed since I was a teenage St John Ambulance cadet. Back then, we joined up largely to give us something to do on in suburban Plymouth when we were still too young to get our hands on scrumpy. My abiding memories are of tight, scratchy jumpers and the impossibility of considering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when we hadn't even had a proper snog yet. But a glossy new series of adverts, such as the one on page 14, suggests all that has changed.

(Apart from the tight, scratchy jumpers, which are good training for life, believe me. If you can effectively practise cardio-pulmonary resuscitation with your arms pinned to your sides by a tightly applied bandage of ribbed, black polyester, you can pretty much do anything.)

Far from my fond memories of dusty church halls and dodgy hats, the SJA ads reveal it to be a savvy campaigning organisation with a very powerful message. Every year, it points out, 150,000 people die in situations where simple first aid could have saved their lives.

The website takes it further: it tells the story of Jacqueline, who would have bled to death without the action of her 12-year-old son; Alister, who saved his four-year-old daughter from choking; and Katryn, who was resuscitated by a St John Ambulance crew when she collapsed after a half marathon. I dare you to read them without welling up just a little bit. I dare you to read them without signing on for a first aid course immediately.

Very fortunately, I have never had to use my first aid training except for prescribing myself a Mars Bar when I am feeling a bit faint, and knowing what to do when someone has a nose bleed (tilt the head forward, not back, and don't pick your nose so hard in future). The most excitement I ever had was at a local blood donors' session when a minor fracas broke out over the last pink wafer biscuit. Unlike my mum, I have never had to do extreme CPR on the packed top deck of a moving bus; but nor, unlike one school friend, will I ever have to stand aside and dumbly watch as a man dies of a heart attack in front of me.

Trends in first aid training have changed since I was a teenager (though trends in many other things have sadly reverted to that Eighties nadir). We were taught to count chest compressions at a rate of 90-100 beats per minute. Now, first aiders pummel their unconscious victim to the tune of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive". We practised CPR on Ambu Man, who was missing his legs but had a sort of Resusci sat nav sticking out of his tummy. Now, he and his consort, Resusci Anne, have been joined by Resusci Baby Basic and Little Junior Ethnic Skin, who comes with two junior faces, two junior airways, a Virkon rapid pack and a dark skin option (for those who aren't keen on the grey version who looks like the bastard offspring of Resusci Anne and the Plymouth Civic Centre).

Back in 1991, I was an opinionated little madam (would you have guessed?) and had a particular gripe about sitting through the nonsense of PSME (Personal, Social and Moral Education) classes when instead we could have been learning how to save lives. PSME is now called something else. The St John Ambulance is now a swish outfit with a cracking ad operation. But I'd still campaign to combine the two and teach children something they can really use in their weekly PHSCE (Personal, Health, Social and Citizenship Education) classes.

Whatever. Who knows – they might use their schooling to save a life, one day. And those tight scratchy jumpers are probably right back in fashion.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence