News from the first aid front

Since Betty’s employers have her dispensing glipizide and metformin and lithium carbonate with gay abandon, they deemed it appropriate for her to do a first aid course. Fair enough. It was no flighty three-hour jobbie, either, but a hefty two-day workplace first aid course, which means that Betty is now the hefty workplace first aider (though, as she shares this responsibility with every other employee in the place, it’s not much of an accolade). It’s nice to know, though, that if Betty does run her nice work car into the back of someone, she will be able to get out of the car, triage the situation, and perform minor emergency manoeuvres in her sleep. This will be useful.

A few notes, for the benefit of those who think a cup of tea is the safest answer:

  • DRSABC. That’s doctor’s, so you don’t have to panic wondering how you’ll be able to remember the acronym DRS come the revolution. Doctor’s ABC.
  • The doctor’s part is Danger (switch off the engine, and for pete’s sake chuck a towel on that cup of tea), Response (“hulloo? Anybody home?”), Send for help (and be specific: there are almost as many variations on the emergency numbers in different countries as there are acronyms in the mental health system, and it turns out that mobiles over here should try calling 112 instead of 111, so there you go).
  • The ABC part has been changing with the times. A is for Airway, of course, which means that it pays to pull the bubblegum out of baby’s gullet before you waste time with the crepe bandage; B is for Breathing, which is pretty much held to be compulsory, even in this technological age; and C no longer stands for Circulation, allegedly because finding a pulse is v. difficult when in the heat of the moment. I have always found that a diffident finger in the carotid does the trick, but I bow to the wisdom of the latest research; anyhow, the story goes, if the patient’s respiration has ceased the pulse is not long for this world either, so it pays to get straight into the CPR, which (fortunately for the acronym) also begins with C. So that’s what you do. CPR.

CPR is quite fun, these days. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember how fast to do the chest compressions, and even more worried when the manual said to do 100 per minute, which requires complex fractions, but the tutor had a nifty trick: simply bounce away on the sternum to the pace of two chirpy rounds of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. That gives 31 compressions at an appropriate rate; then give two breaths (for no apparent reason; the Americans have given up on them altogether; but chest compressions are jolly hard on the wrists), and repeat until either the paramedics or the patient tells you to stop.

Just in case, each workplace first aid graduate was sent home with Mini-Anne, who has an inflatable torso, a disposable set of lungs, and a pinchable nose; her chest clicks when you do it right. Stay tuned for pics, later.