First Aid 

Today I went on a first aid refresher course, so that I can continue to teach for Pony Club, be insured on the Instructors register, and of course for everyone’s peace of mind.

It’s been three years since I last did a course, and I was pleased that nothing came as a big surprise, and the knowledge was somewhere in my head, albeit a bit rusty. Thinking back to previous courses I’ve done this one was the most interactive and hands-on – not one I would have enjoyed four years ago, but in my old age I’ve become more tolerant of making a fool out of myself as I tap a mannequin and ask it to respond …

The hands-on aspect reinforced the theory well, and I think it’s made me feel more confident afterwards than I have on previous courses. 

I still don’t particularly want to put my knowledge to the test, but I’m sure my clients will be reassured by my certificate.

I won’t bore you all with the details, but one thing that stuck in my mind came from a conversation with other equestrians over lunch. Most of us put body protectors on and then zip our coat up over the top. Or pull out hoody over our bulk. So what happens when we fall off and, God forbid, need “basic life support”? 

Our body protectors need removing. Clothing we can live with and do chest compressions over the top, but it is impossible to save someone’s life with a rigid body protector. So by burying out body protectors under our coat and jumpers means precious time is wasted hunting for scissors to cut clothing off so that the front of the body protector can be opened or removed, depending on the design. Plus there has to be a scissor hunt …

So potentially, wearing your body protector on the outside of your clothes could be the difference between life and death.

You always hear horrific stories at these sorts of courses, of people falling off and smashing bones – this reminded me of a pony clubber who fell off last summer into her arms and broke both wrists and one elbow. And another lady told of when she fell off during her Stage III exam and her chinstrap-less hat flew off, causing her to be hospitalised for three days.

 And you never think of banging your head in the same way … It’s definitely concussion or compression, you’ll tell the ambulance.

We all had a laugh with bandaging because, as equestrians, our standards are a lot higher than a first aiders – however, as pointed out, the paramedics won’t pass or fail us on our bandaging technique, they’ll just be pleased the injury or wound is being treated.

Today a lot of focus was put onto the fact that first aid is common sense. Don’t move the casualty unless necessary; breathing takes priority over everything, including paralysis; ambulance control will talk you through every step and make any decisions for you; and defibrillators are amazing and everyone should have one. They even talk you through, in a robotic voice, basic life support – counting thirty compressions and two breaths.

Compared to my first first aid course the approach seems to have shifted away from iron clad rules to a give-it-your-best-shot approach. This means if you lose count of the chest compressions it’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t really matter if you do the breaths before compressions – although not the most efficient it doesn’t do any harm.

I think this approach should encourage more people to undertake first aid courses, as its a positive line of thought, and wants people to work in the right direction to save a life, rather than running away. I did think it was a shame that first aid is only taught in Scouts or Guides, or any other club, and not on the school curriculum, because there is initial fear associated with first aid, and the introduction at an early age would reduce this.

Now I’m home, I’m assessing our first aid supply, only to find that we only have a handful of plasters and recycled bandages to hand. My next job is to buy a home first aid kit, and also one for my car. If I’m feeling really motivated, I may even check the first aid kit at the yard and make sure there’s a list of first aiders up on display.

In the meaning, here is a video we watched today …Here!