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What Does First Aid Mean To You? Taking A Second Look At First Aid

Updated on December 23, 2015

What Does First Aid Mean To You?

When I ask my students what they think first aid is, the answers I often hear are: saving lives, attending to an emergency situation, the first response to an emergency, CPR, lots of blood and staying with someone until the paramedics arrive. Our initial thoughts when we think about First Aid are often about handling the serious situations - or dealing with the big stuff. And yes, that is right. First Aid is dealing with the big scary stuff. It's also so much more than that. It's taking care of the minor injuries or illnesses that we deal with on a daily basis – the boo-boo's.

But First Aid is also about our own perception and not being afraid to stand up and take a second look. It's about witnessing a situation and determining if our initial response is correct or if there is something else that we need to be considering. It's asking ourselves what else could it be and following your gut instincts.

How we view an event or emergency can make a difference between life or death. Many people have died because people have perceived the injuries or illness to be something else entirely and didn't take the time to look beyond their initial assumption or ask "could this be something else?"

A perfect example of this is drunken behavior. There have been countless incidents where a person has been seen acting like they are drunk. People witnessing the behavior have ignored the situation because they believe that the person has just had too much to drink. But in reality, those "drunks" were actually experiencing life threatening emergencies such as a diabetic emergency, shock, hypothermia or stroke. Many people have even died because others around them have perceived the casualty as being intoxicated and didn't take the time to ask what else could be wrong.

What is First Aid?

What is First Aid?
What is First Aid? | Source

CSR Uses His Perception To Investigate A Follow-Up Call

A story that I read recently and linked to this article is about this very topic. A customer service representative phoned a customer as a routine follow-up. The customer's 4 year old son answered the phone and told the representative that his mom couldn't come to the phone. The story could have easily ended there, but not for this service rep. His gut instinct that told him something wasn't right so he asked questions. Rather than just letting his boss know about the call and his concerns, the employee went above and beyond expectation by actually going to the customer's house. Once there, he found the mother deceased and the young child alone. He quickly notified authorities and stayed with the young boy until help arrived.

While this story was heartbreaking for many reasons, the truth is that if this man had not perceived that something else could be going on and taken the time to ask a few more questions, the child would have been alone much longer and the story could have ended even more tragically.

Lives Were Saved

In my own personal experiences, I have encountered several situations where I've had to look beyond my own or other people's initial perceptions to see that there was something else more serious. One such situation that comes to my mind happened several years ago. I was working part time in a home that supported individuals with disabilities. During one shift, I noticed one of the ladies had a rash on her hand. I had asked the other staff about it but they quickly dismissed it as nothing. To me, something just didn't look or seem right about the rash. I again asked the other staff about it. They had mentioned that the rash had been there for a few days but never really thought much of it.

It would have been very easy to let it go at that point but I didn't. I took a closer look. It didn't look like any rash I had ever seen before so I asked more questions. The lady affected told me that the rash was all over and showed me her back and legs. I quickly notified my manager who came to the house. She quickly dismissed the rash as nothing and told me that we would "keep an eye on it". My instincts told me something differently so I pushed.

The resident was taken to the hospital upon my insistence. There, the Dr's quickly discovered that her white platelets count had dropped so dangerously low that she was in a critical condition. Had we waited another day to take her to the hospital, she would have died. The young lady spent weeks in the hospital and today doing very well.

A more recent experience happened to a good friend of mine. Tom was at a local coffee shop with another friend when he noticed a man looking drowsy, slurring his words and unable to hold his coffee cup. The staff and other customers at the coffee shop quickly dismissed the man as being drunk. They even told Tom to leave him be, but following his gut instinct, Tom went over to the man and started asking questions. He soon discovered that the man had an empty bottle of medication on him. The medication was a very powerful sedative that had just been prescribed to the man the day before. This drunken behaviour that everyone else was perceiving the situation to be was actually a drug overdose. Tom immediately instructed the staff to call an ambulance. Paramedics came and took the man to the hospital. Had my friend listened to the other patrons and staff who blatantly told him to ignore the guy because he was "just drunk," the man could have died. Tom's perception and follow up of the situation saved the man's life.

That is part of what First Aid is. Yes t's the big scary stuff, the little things and everything in between stuff. But most importantly, it's looking beyond our initial perception of what we assume the situation to be and following our instincts that tell us that some else is going on. It's standing up and not being afraid to delve into a situation a little further. People can and have saved lives by looking beyond what we believe is the obvious.

Do you have a story or experience to share? I would love to hear about it. Please feel free to share your experiences and stories in the comments section below.


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