In my quest to accomplish the 10 First Aid Skills Every Parent Should Know (because I really do practice what I preach, doncha know!), my oldest son and I attended an American Red Cross Community First Aid/CPR class. Not only will this count towards health credits for him for high school, it is a chance for us to become better PREPared in First Aid and CPR, making ourselves better able to take care of our family in the event of an issue, and to be good citizens in helping others.
Legalese: I also am not dispensing any legal or medical advice on this post. I’m sharing with you WHY it is important to get your family trained in First Aid/CPR, and am sharing our particular experience in doing so.
The Basic Rundown of Class
We spent a lot of time watching videos on techniques before we actually practiced them. Then we practiced, a lot. I was honestly a little sore later in the day from all of the reptitions of 30 compressions, 2 puffs, 30 compressions, 2 puffs. Once we were done with CPR for adults, children, infants, then choking with adults, children and infants, then cardiac arrest from choking for adults, children and infants, we started in on some basic first aid awareness and practice of basic first aid skills.
(I promise, we did not suffocate a doll in order to resusitate it ! That’s our safety face mask!)
In one scenario, a Mom is at the part with her two children who have run off to play. They both fall and are injured. And the Mom stands there and says, I’m sorry, I don’t have anything to help you”, then looks around helplessly until two construction works show up who were eating lunch in their trucks and brought some supplies. The FIRST thing I said when the instructor asked about the video was… BAD MOM! Then I turned bright red :) Of course, in my mind, a PREPared Mom would have a basic first aid kit in her bag with her at all times. Even if she had to run to get it, she still had it available. (sure, there may be times when you are without. But at the park, really?). I didn’t break into a diatribe on the need to be PREPared all the time, though. My son probably would’ve withered away in embarrassment if I had. At least he got a big laugh out of it.
Then we all became guinae pigs for each other as we practiced many different scenarios of how to administer first aid. There were a lot of triangle bandages in use!
What We Learned
- Basic CPR for infants, children and adults. While the ARC is now teaching a hands-only CPR as the preferred method to the general public, the classes still teach a method of check breathing/30 compressions/2 breaths/30 compressions for adults. (There is a hands-only method also being taught for basic CPR)
- How to resolve a choking issue in infants, children and adults, then perform CPR in case of a cardiac crisis resulting from the choking. The method is a little different.
- How to use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and why it’s important that if you have it available, it trumps chest compressions for those situations where you are in V-tach or V-fib (if the patient is already in full cardiac arrest, they don’t work (no heartbeat, no breathing).
- How to identify and treat burns
- How to identify and treat shock, stroke and heat-related illnesses
- First Aid techniques for minor wounds, punctures, strains/sprains. While we did learn some basic splinting techniques, we did not learn how to splint broken bones. The idea is to splint something only if you have to move the patient in an emergency. Otherwise, keep them stable until medical professionals arrive.
Tips We Learned
- You are covered by the Good Samaritan Law for those things you have been trained in.
- Don’t just shout out for someone to call 911. Look at someone, point to them, and tell them to call 911.
- Always identify yourself as trained in basic CPR/First Aid, and ask permission to help before you help if at all possible.
- Lean forward when having a nose bleed. Intuition tells us to tilt our head back when we have a nose bleed, but tilting forward protects us from accidental draining into our lungs. Pinching the bridge of the nose and putting compression on your upper lip helps decrease the bleeding.
What We Came Away With
- We feel more confident in our ability to perform CPR in a way that adheres to the current standards by the American Red Cross.
- We feel more confident in our ability to perform CPR in general.
- We feel more confident in our ability to perform Abdominal Compressions the CORRECT way, regardless of the age or size of the individual (because you can’t call it the Heimlich any more).
- We feel more confident in our ability to render first aid in a multitude of common injuries.
And yes, we’ll get some kind of certificate in the mail that attests to the fact that we complete a course in basic First Aid/CPR through an accredited program. But the certificate is only useful for babysitting jobs, high school transcripts, and if ever we are sued for rendering first aid :D But that’s not why we took the class. We took it so that we would be more PREPared for our family.
This is a supply list of the things we’ll need for our larger first aid kit and our emergency packs for both us and our cars. We do have a few of these things, but not everywhere. The CPR mask/protector isn’t necessary to perform CPR at all, but is definitely a help if you can get to one, because people throw up, people are sick and you just want protection if possible. This also is not a comprehensive list of first aid supplies you’ll need, but ones we thought fit in with the course that we took and made us thing to check our supplies, and you might find handy to build your kits.
- Disposable Gloves
- CPR Mask– this comes with gloves, an adult mask, an infant mask and wipe. This works a little different than the simple protectors because it protects you even more from transmission, and creates a better airway.
- CPR protectors These are vinyl covers for the face of the victim to help keep from the transmission of fluids and infection. It has a one way valve that is different than a simple filter in many of the covers. You’ll see a version similar to it on the CPR dolls above.
- Quick Clot Sponge
- Israeli Bandage – for wound compression
- Wound Clotting Powder(though, you could try ground pepper for smaller wounds)
- Maxi Pads – you read that right. Maxi-pads can be used for wound compression and to soak up blood (tampons can be used in the same manner for puncture wounds)
- Triangle Bandage – these are great for splinting, large wound care and more. See it used above in the arm splint photo.
- Duct Tape – great for taping down and splinting up ;)
- Super Glue – perfect for small wound closures. This needs to be checked and changed out often becuase it can dry up easily
- Instant cold packs – to help reduce swelling
- Gauze rolls
- First Aid Tape
Learn to save a life!
- Take a basic First Aid Course – whether through your local emergency responder classes, the Y, the Ameican Red Cross or other venue.
- Take a CPR class – CPR training isn’t always available through first aid courses, or you can choose to take a separate CPR only class to be certified. These are also offered through many civil defense groups, city or county emergency responder groups, local recreation centers and the American Red Cross.
- More than the Basics First Aid Classes – if you really want to learn, take a course in more than just basic first aid. One such class is offered by The Patriot Nurse, where you get an intensive course on more than just how to do a tourniquet or pressure bandage a wound. You can also take The Survival Doctor’s Emergencies Training course.
- Stock up your Medical Library – get first aid books that you can study and keep as a reference.
- Learn techniques on You Tube – make sure you’re dealing with someone who is medically sound and learn basic techniques, even if you’re so remote you can’t take a first aid class. While these won’t substitute for real medical training, they can make you familiar with basic techniques that might help you and your family in the course of an emergency.
YOU are a first responder. Make it count!