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Why Do I Need To Know Basic First Aid?

You just never know when first aid skills will come in handy. Last summer, during an art workshop at Arrowmont, a fellow artist collapsed. I was first on ‘scene’, as my table backed up to hers. While our instructor called 911, I followed my training (while shooting the death look to those yelling “SHE’S HAVING A STROKE” and “HEART ATTACK!”) by keeping her comfortable and reassured while monitoring all vitals, getting SAMPLE info while being ready to administer CPR and attach any available AED if needed. Somehow, despite the Gatlinburg traffic, EMS was there in a few short minutes and I gave them timing and all vitals. Fellow artist was fine; she succumbed to the combined factors of trying some new diet, advanced age, dehydration and extended standing time.

My Dad, with the same WEC/OEC training but many more years of experience, has been a ‘first on scene’ angel in many serious car accidents. In several of those scenarios, my Dad happening upon the accident prior to emergency personnel, made a vital difference. What a gift he has been able to use, even off the ski slopes. We have some doozies of stories on the ski slopes as well!

Last year, our assistant principal at school watched a Heimlich Maneuver video that she randomly came across when looking for something else. That week, a teacher passing through the front office choked, and she acted quickly, efficiently and with confidence. Some people call that a coincidence, some people call it a God-nudge. Either way, seconds mattered.

Many people ask why I maintain my OEC and CPR when it is no longer necessary for active National Ski Patrol duty. I do it for my family. I do it because I am ‘Mom’ now. I do it for my students at school. I do it because we love hiking and going backcountry. I do it because there could be times when seconds matter and help is minutes or even longer away, regardless of our location. I could fill this blog post with endless examples of good Samaritans with first aid skills making a vital difference in seconds. Imagine one of your loved ones needing vital basic first aid intervention when seconds matter…

Obviously, we cannot all be doctors, nor get a certification in first aid. However, I believe that basic skills are extremely important to have and easily attainable in this age of information. I do think that hands-on is extremely important for CPR and many other skills (coming from someone who has witnessed horrible inadequate form in first responder drills!).

I nerded out this Spring and took a suturing workshop. It was awesome, especially if you love sewing and handling pigs feet. I hope that I never have the need to suture. Admittedly, my extra-curricular reading time has been a bit lacking lately, but this book (written by the two medical professionals who taught the suturing workshop) is on my list. Based on the reviews and my experience with the medical professional authors, I think that it would be worth checking out!

Part of a ‘readiness’ state of mind is doing what you can when outside help is not available, so admittedly, this is a large part of my mindset. If you are not prepared to buy into a ‘readiness’ state of mind, I understand! However, consider the advantage of familiarizing yourself with basic first aid. The best case scenario is that you never need it! And the worst case is that you do, and you never took advantage of available resources to get comfortable with such skills.