Last week, the Actions team witnessed and responded to a real life emergency.
The ones involved learnt a lot in this situation and it highlighted a few things about what we teach and why we teach them.
In our teaching, we use scenarios in our assessments, we do this to give a proper understanding of the different situations you may find yourself in when dealing with an emergency. Sometimes people might think certain scenarios are not very realistic, however the reality is, is that an emergency can happen when you least expect it and in some of the strangest places.
This is the scenario we experienced last week;
“You are eating lunch in a small dining hall when you hear people yelling for help behind you, you turn around to see panicked faces and an adult male in distress. His eyes have rolled to the back of his head, his tongue hanging out of his mouth and all colour has gone from his body. He isn’t breathing. Respond.”
What we teach, is very different to what we experienced.
In our teachings we use S.T.O.P – Stop, Think, Observe and Protect. We also say that someone needs to take control of the situation & direct people in what to do, for example: “Someone call 111” “Someone help move the body” “Start CPR” “Go and get an AED” “Get someone to control the bystanders”
That is what we would expect to happen in an emergency, our experience was very different.
One of our team immediately picked up the phone and called 111, the other jumped into action, helped move the body and went to find someone who knew where the nearest AED was kept and the other team member cleared the area (it happened in a dining hall so space needed to be cleared to work on the patient).
The biggest issue in this whole situation is that nobody was giving direction, the people who had started CPR were not calm, they were yelling and allowing more people to enter the room. It was chaos. It didn’t take long for the room to fill up with people, people who were not helping, people who were just watching.
This is NOT what we want to happen in an emergency.
This emergency has really highlighted for our team the need to put emphasis on staying calm and level headed in an emergency situation. As First Aiders we are trained to respond in any way that we can, and it may be as simple as once you know the patient is being responded to and the ambulance is on the way, you can leave the scene or stand back to give the people working some space.
This also was some of our teams first emergency, and although we jumped into action, like we teach, it didn’t mean that it didn’t affect us greatly afterwards. We understand the fear that surrounds situations like this, but to do something, is better than doing nothing, and that is something we will always teach.
If you ever find yourself in this situation and people are already responding, yet the people surrounding seem chaotic, don’t be afraid to step in and take control of the situation. Start to direct people where to go, if you can close off the scene then do so, or if people themselves look to be greatly affected by what they are witnessing, assist them by getting them to sit down away from the scene.
Every little bit helps to avoid a chaotic scene like what we experienced.
This emergency also showed us how important it is for immediate response. Personally, for me, everything happened incredibly fast. The response of the team with the adult male, and our team who were sitting in the dining room at the time was fast and efficient.
Immediate Response makes all the difference in the likelihood of restoration of breathing.
Thankfully in this circumstance the team managed to get him back, with immediate CPR and the use of an AED machine, by the time the ambulance arrived at the scene the male was responsive, we have since heard that by the time he got to the hospital he was talking, which is great news all round.
Overall, what we learnt and took away from this is that there is fear present when faced with an emergency but keep calm and do what you can, something is better than nothing. Try to defuse the situation of chaos and take control if nobody else is, and that immediate response makes a huge difference to the outcome of the situation.
If you too would like to learn how to save a life if you were ever faced with a scenario like this, then contact us about booking onto one of our public courses.