I am not superman
I’ve never given anyone mouth to mouth. I never needed to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a choking person to the applause of onlookers at a restaurant. The sum total of my “First Aid” experience is limited to a few small cuts and bruises and those are often easily repaired with bandages. Frankly, most of those injuries needed more hugs and kisses than first aid, nothing more.
So why would I say first aid training has benefited me? How has CPR training shaped my life?
Being Fully Trained
My first experience with receiving American Heart Association (AHA) certified CPR and first aid training was when I was a young teenager. I took part in a program for young men, similar to Boy Scouts, and I learned it for a merit badge. Then, I participated in a wilderness survival training through a separate outdoor wilderness leadership training program. Part of that training included even more in-depth skills regarding first aid with a focus on places where there was no doctor.
For the next ten or more years of my life, I was involved in some form of first aid and/or CPR training on nearly an annual basis. As an adult I even learned infant CPR and first aid from an AHA certified instructor. Needless to say, first aid and CPR training has occupied a large part of my life.
I learned many skills. From the basics of wound cleaning and rescue breathing, to more advanced skills like setting bones and applying tourniquets. I have used virtually none of those skills. But what I learned had a greater application.
I learned how to react
No matter what situation I now face, my responses are shaped by what I learned in those training times. I learned that blindly rushing in and reacting is not the right way. We were taught first to observe and assess, and then respond. I learned that my reaction must be well informed and calm. It doesn’t matter how I handle a situation as long as I am calm and can bring peace into the situation.
For me as a father, some of the scariest injuries my kids have sustained have been to the mouth. When their mouth hits something hard and they start to bleed it seems as if there is almost nothing that I can do. Blood seems to go everywhere, you can’t see where they are actually hurt, and there is NO WAY to calm them.The thoughts of emergency rooms, dental surgery, and more always rush through my brain
Despite feeling absolutely helpless and completely scared, I still respond by picking them up, comforting them as much as possible, then I do my best to assess the damage. All the while my heart is pounding. But my response is pretty much the same, whether or not it’s a bruised knee, a broken bone, or a mouth injury.
I learned to communicate
So much of what you learn in first aid and CPR is about clear communication. You learn how to communicate with 911 operators, rescue workers, bystanders, and people you are working with. Communication is best handled by calm and clear directives. These are skills that are applicable to all of life, not just life threatening ones.
Perhaps this is an extreme example, but I think it is appropriate. During the 2008 Beichuan Earthquake, in Sichuan, China, I took part in some of the relief effort. However, it was not utilizing any of my CPR and first aid training. I was operating as a translator mostly. At the time, I knew next to nothing regarding medical and emergency vocabulary. Most of the time, I used my phone dictionary to find the necessary words while simultaneously translating.
What does this have to do with communication? My task was to quickly and accurately communicate as best as I could in a second language environment. And by some miracle I did, in large part to how I was taught to communicate in emergency situations, not because of my Chinese level.
I learned confidence
Most of all, I learned to be confident in face of whatever situation I am facing. Sometimes life is scary and I don’t know what to do. However, due to my first aid training, I respond appropriately and with confidence. It doesn’t mean I always make the right choice, or that I’m not afraid. Rather, I have the ability to not react in fear, or be frozen by indecisiveness.
The skill sets taught in First Aid and CPR training are important for life. We never know when we will face a situation that those skills are needed to save a life. But even more importantly, these tools shape our lives for the better even when we are not faced with life threatening situations.
How has First Aid training benefited your life?
Aric is David & Lisa’s son-in-law and the father to two of their granddaughters. He has his BA in Leadership and Business Management but spends most of his days being part geek. Whether it is photography, bread baking, or technology, Aric loves all things technical. Currently he is building websites and working with MCS in his free time as a consultant, web designer, and jack-of-all trades.