First Aid training


Like all BCU Coaches I have to keep a First Aid Certificate ‘current’. There are many folks who do one as it’s a ‘good idea’. To be a BCU Coach at least once every three years you must attend an ‘approved course’. I tried to join one for the past 18 months but the few I have found were either cancelled or I was working abroad. More recently the BCU ‘changed the rules.’ It is now a 2 day (16hour) course…..

Sadly as the course can be run by many organisations, the BCU does not keep a list of where these are being run. They do not even suggest that BCU approved centres let them know so that the BCU website can inform members, grrr! I have recently contacted the BCU suggesting if they did this it would benefit coaches AND course providers. Those who wish to attend a course can see where they are, in one place, so it is more likely that courses will not get cancelled due to lack of attendance.

I was pleased to receive an email from a club member who also had to do the 2 day course for his 4 star. He had found someone running one locally but needed at least 5 others to sign up. Even the night before I was not 100% sure that he had sufficient numbers.

I knew there was plenty that I had forgotten. In the initial ‘explain who we are’ session I had to confess that the worst injury I have had to deal with is just cuts and scrapes. Whether this is just luck or exceptionally good planning I leave to those I paddle with.

Our instructor, Steve Gravells, used to run SWAC (just under the Itchen Bridge at Southampton) many years ago. He has qualifications in most water-born activity and has a wealth of experience with injuries to draw on. The next two days were spent refreshing many items of First Aid. There were many things that came out of it.

The 4 main points were:

– If you teach First Aid courses you will end up using the gear for real quite often,

– It is scary how easily basic things get forgotten,

– No matter how many times you do one the next time you attend ‘something’ will have changed,

– New mnemonics will have been made.

During the course we went through a number of potential accident scenarios and the things you can and cannot do as a First Aider. Some of the mnemonics are even now only remembered because I wrote them down. So if you know your LIONEL from your AVPU and your S+SAMPLET from DRSABCDEF off by heart then you are either very good at recall or run the courses.

Arriving at St. Joseph’s, Ashurst I was pleasantly pleased to find that of the 7 people there, 5 were Portsmouth Canoe Club members. The other two were from Bedford and Cardiff! The fact they had come from so far away surprised me but might also be a reflection of why we are struggling to find a course provider for the two day course.

Fortunately we all passed and it means that I am still ‘safe’ to paddle with.

Take note of point 1 above though…..

Since doing the course I was watching an episode of ‘Bondi Rescue’ – Baywatch for real at Bondi Beach near Sydney, Australia. During the show they rescued a 2 year old who had drowned and did CPR from a surf rescue board. After that they had to rescue an 18 year old lad. It was incredible to see how much his ribs moved during the compressions. Thankfully both made a full recovery afterward.

These two real-life cases certainly brought it home why we attend the course and seeing it all for real. The debrief from the lifeguards was also very informative.

Like all training and preparation…‘Expect the worst but hope for the best’. But if you see me approaching you wearing a pair of rubber gloves you will now know why.