| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Family first aid in Dubai

Knowing what to do in an emergency could save a life

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As the mother of two accident-prone sons, I’m a dab hand at the ‘kiss it better’ school of nursing. But in terms of emergency first aid know-how, I’m embarrassed to admit my knowledge is minimal. So, when I was offered the chance to learn some tips from an expert, it was an opportunity not to be missed.

I arrive early for the Emergency First Response Paediatric First Aid Class run by Mike White and meet the other participants. We’re a mixed bag. Beth is a Filipina housemaid who has been sent on the course by her employer. Anita, a fellow mum, is an old hand at first aid. ‘The information is constantly changing, and you do need to refresh your knowledge, otherwise you might not be doing the best thing when something happens,’ she explains. Greg, meanwhile, is a kite surfing instructor who is also attending to update his qualifications.

The first part of the session concentrates on CPR and resuscitation. It sounds pretty simple in theory. After all, how hard can mouth-to mouth and chest compressions actually be? But when we get down to business and practice on a child-sized dummy, and then on an infant-sized one, I realise it’s not as easy as it looks. Remembering to tilt the head back, check for breathing, seal off the nose, breathe in hard enough so that the dummy’s chest rises – and count those breaths carefully (five rescue ones, followed by 30 chest compressions, followed by two more breaths and so on) is quite a shopping list in an emergency.

It takes a while before Mike is convinced we’ve all got it. The CPR is the hardest bit, as you have to be directly above the dummy, pushing down hard with straight arms in fast, firm movements. It’s physically demanding and we all get puffed out in the process. ‘Because CPR is hard work, people usually work in a team, so that when one person is tired, someone else can take over. If just one of you knows what to do, and can supervise, it can save a life,’ explains Mike.

Moving a child into the recovery position, whilst supporting their spine, also takes a bit of practice. Greg is our dummy while we work in pairs and attempt to move him from his back to his side. Despite seeing Mike demonstrate it, and watching a short film on it, somehow Greg keeps ending up on his stomach. Eventually, though, we crack it. It’s all in the arm movements, and practice makes perfect.

Next up, we learn how to make doughnut bandages for compound fractures, tie a sling, do the Heimlich and another version of the manoeuvre to clear an infant’s airways in the event of choking. We also discuss burns, jellyfish stings, what to do if children are in shock, or suffering from arterial bleeding – and the kind of kit we should all have in our home and car first aid kits.

By the end of the course, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned, how little I knew before – and how poorly stocked my first aid kit is (plasters from 1985 and a dried-up tube of Germoline doesn’t cut it). It’s also scary to think that just a few basic skills might actually make the difference between saving and losing a life. Hopefully, I’ll never have to put into practice what I’ve learned, but I’ll keep refreshing those skills – just in case.
For more information on the internationally recognised Emergency First Response certificate – a Paediatric first aid course recommended by PADI, call Mike White on 050 226 5134.

Time Out Dubai,

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