Teaching Little Johnny/Janey How to Save Lives. The Realistic Version.

A few days ago, I saw a post about an online First Aid course. Upon completion of the program, which has no minimum age requirement, ‘students’ will be awarded a First Aid certificate.

The doctor in me freaked out. Big time. Especially when mothers are signing their children up, in the mistaken belief that Little Johnny / Little Janey can learn how to save lives in the real world after sitting in front of the computer screen for a few hours.

In this technological age, we can do most things online, ranging from controlling your lighting on remote to killing people. But to learn First Aid online?

99% of emergency life-saving skills are practical in nature. The theory is simple enough. Here it is, in a nutshell:

D = Danger. Ensuring that the casualty and First Aider are safe.

R = Response. Is the casualty responding to voice and/or touch?

A = Airway. Is there a blockage? Can you clear it?

B = Breathing. Is casualty breathing clearly?

C = Circulation. Is there a pulse? Is the beating? Is there major hemorrhage from somewhere?

It’s known as DR ABC. It’s easy enough to teach children. I am all for children learning First Aid, but in the real world, and with practical, hands-on experience and a lot of drilling. My fourteen-year-old daughter ran a First Aid course for children, and 75% of the course is getting kids to actually do things. Because much of of First Aid is confidence and drill, not theory. I have taught First Aid courses to clever adults, and many of them – well versed in the theory – froze in a simulated scenario.

So how realistic it is to expect an 8 year old to be proficient First Aider? Imagine this scenario. As you are crossing the road with your child, a car knocks you down on a lonely stretch of road and the drives off. The impact of the car shatters your thigh bone, and the fragments pierces your femoral artery. You fall to the ground, hitting your head and you lose consciousness. Your head wound starts bleeding profusely. The fall also causes you to choke on your tongue.

Following DR ABC to the letter, Little Johnny should drag your inert body away from the road, out of danger. He should then check on your response, clear your airway to resume your breathing, before making a judgment call to stem arterial flow from your thigh rather than the dramatic blood loss from the head wound. Seriously, even if your little darling is a superhuman being, can an eight year old realistically do all these?

I, for one, would prefer to teach my Little Janey life-saving skills in the real world. I would teach her to be safe first and foremost. In the scenario above, she should leave the casualty behind and get herself away from the road. There is not much point in having two dead bodies. Little Janey should learn to walk facing the traffic and flag the next car down for help in the safest possible manner instead of sacrificing her own life trying to drag a dead-weight adult off the danger zone, a futile task in most cases.

How realistic is it to expect an eight year old to be able to clear blocked airways? I was in an airplane recently when a fellow passenger choked on a piece of meat. A panicked call went out for a doctor on board to identify himself to the flight attendant. By the time I reached the casualty, another doctor was already there, performing the Heimlich manouvre.   The doctor was an Australian male, with burly forearms locked tightly around the casualty, trying to dislodge the small piece of meat using the standard protocol. Without much success. I took the decision to put the casualty in a head-lower position – with the help of three men – before using a metal spoon to pry open the casualty’s jaw and retrieve that piece of meat. I could not have managed this on my own, and neither could your eight-year-old superhumanbeing child.

So please, dear parents, be realistic. And teach your children real life-saving skills. Teach your child how to get help. A survey of 757 parents which was carried out by Mumsnet, the UK’s largest Internet community for parents, showed a woefully small number of children actually know how to dial for help. Teach your child how to call the emergency number from a locked smartphone, give your address coherently and describe the incident as accurately and as succinctly as possible. Drill your child regularly. Constantly raise his awareness when it comes to safety. Because when it comes to children, this is what actually saves lives, not theoretical First Aid courses.


Of Childhood Illnesses

We live in an over-medicated society where people are getting more ill, instead of better. Each day when I open my Facebook newsfeed, and I read posts by mothers moaning about their children’s coughs, colds, fever, congested chests. Again. And often, accompanying these posts are photos of sorry-looking children (passive, cowed and victimised) and the medication that they have been prescribed with. Being ill has become a state of play, for both the unthinking parents’ monkey brains and the pharmaceutical industry. A whole generation of children is accepting that illness is normal, and the solution is taking sick leave and swallowing drugs. Hello, this is all part of growing up.

Do you know that doctors and hospitals make money from selling medicines, dear parents?

Analgesics are popped into the mouth like sweets these days. There is medication for fever, coughs, colds, congested chest, you name it, and you can be sure that a pharmaceutical company somewhere has thought about it (and exploited modern society’s desire for instant effortless cure). The majority of medicines found in the home are useless. Harmful even, in the long run, because apart from breeding resistant bugs, we rob our bodies of the vital opportunities to learn how to overcome infections. Indeed, we are de-skilling our body’s defence system by mollycoddling it with false friends.

The fact that your body is sick means that there is something not quite right about it at the moment. And it is for a reason. It is out of balance with its environment, resulting in the outbreak. For example, if your child is often ill with fever or other little ailments, it means that he/she is not able to fight common infections. So instead of medicating your child, may I suggest that you do an audit, which is to say find out if your child nutritional intake is sufficient to balance the needs of his growing body? Is he having enough rest? Is he drinking enough fluids? Is there an underlying serious issue that’s causing the recurrent outbreak? It could be emotional, as more and more children in our pressurised society is suffering from stress early, and illness is one of the ways the child manifest the stress or unhappiness that he is feeling. Medication for fever is not going to solve the real problem for the long term.

In fact, research has shown that parents over-reacting over little ailments by over-medicating their children can cause a rise in immune-related diseases, some serious.  Antibiotics, analgesics and hand sanitisers are most emphatically not meant to me part of our normal lives.

If your child’s daycare centre has frequent outbreaks of the highly infectious hand-foot-and-mouth disease, arming yourself and your child with crazy quantities of anti-microbial hand sanitisers is not going to help. Some hand sanitisers are carcinogenic. Far better to insist that the daycare centre establish a clear protocols to prevent future outbreaks, because you are then dealing with the problem, rather than loading your child’s body with more toxins. The general practitioner, Dr. Rosemary Leonard wrote that we are breeding a ‘dangerously clean generation’, and she sees a rise in immune-related disorders, such as eczema, asthma, hayfever and food allergies.

Of course, I am not advocating that you just leave a sick child be. We, the parents, have to manage the illness with wisdom and with these four facts:

(1) Keep a fevered child’s temperature down by regular sponging him and wearing loose cotton clothes. Let him rest in a room with cool ventilation.

(2) Ensure that your child is hydrated.

(3) If the illness persists for more than three-four days, take your child to a reputable emergency unit/trusted doctor, and seek explanations. You may have to insist on tests.

(4) Look out for other symptoms, such as blotches (which could be indicative of meningitis) and rash.

(5) If your child’s condition worsened, then it is straight to the emergency unit as soon as possible.

For our children’s sake, we must begin taking responsibility and stop subcontracting their health to outside parties, who often do not have your children’s best interest at heart. Wake up to the reality that popping pill does not help. It may even kill. We may seek to cure or prevent all illnesses with disinfectants, antibiotics and cleanliness, but Nature has found a way to get her own back. There are more sick children today than there ever was. Don’t raise a victim.

Stay tuned on my piece on Energy Medicine.