Phew that was a day, that was! 08.00 to 18.00 with a working lunch so we didn’t stop at all. Fabulous!!!
I had wanted to renew my acquaintance with human First Aid for a long time, so when the local Fire Station offered a one-day course to get a certificate, I jumped at it. Remember I told you that over here ambulances are only taxis and if you are injured, you call the pompiers (Fire Brigade)? What a fabulous bunch they are, men and women, many of whom are part time volunteers ready to rush away from a comfy house to put themselves in danger to save lives. Bravo! I was saddened and somewhat shocked to find that the reason they were resuming the First Aid courses was because of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Because of financial cutbacks, the courses were no longer mandatory in school and private citizens were reluctant to pay to go on them now they are no longer free. Apparently many people during the attacks died because nobody would dare touch them for lack of knowledge or fear of making things worse.
Here is our instructor Sgt. Jeremie who patiently put up with seven women, including one daft ole bat and a young gentleman who turned out to be the brother of my physiotherapist, Lisa.
Things have changed a lot and not just that I was dealing with humans instead of animals. Less chance of getting bitten but much more of catching something nasty from your patient. That, of course, hadn’t crossed my mind but I blessed my habit of moving road-kill because it means I have a kit bag with latex gloves and disinfectant hand spray on me at all times. We even considered the possibility of carrying a mouth protector in case of having to resuscitate but I decided that having done mouth to mouth on a stillborn puppy and a couple of cats, I was probably germ-proof. Also we can now use tourniquets again, which had gone out of favour in my time. I helped out by demonstrating how to make an improvised one with a scarf, bit of cloth (sleeve) and a stick (in fact I nicked a tea-towel and a table knife from the kitchen).
Over lunch, the Lieutenant tried to recruit us all but blanched when I asked “Nearly 60 with a buggered back any good?” He grinned and said I’d done OK at evacuating a room of people supposedly gas-overcome people, doing the sensible thing of shouting for help before starting to drag them out by their feet – no there were no stairs.
We had a lot of giggles, especially when I was told to ensure that Lisa’s brother was unconscious. I tickled him. He wasn’t. He is on the end on the right so there was no way I was going to fireman’s lift him around. I rolled him into the recovery position and rang for help. I don’t know what we did before mobile phones and I didn’t bring up the fact that out here in the country it is very rare we can get a good signal. Hence, I suppose, shouting your head off for a neighbour with a landline to assist!
The last hour and a half was testing of what we had learned and we took turns to leave the room while the instructor set up a scenario. I, having been a bit of clown and also falling asleep after lunch, was faced with the toughest job – aforementioned family all overcome by gas. Apparently I did OK although my cussing in French got better marks than my lifting techniques.
At the end we all trooped around the Fire station and were allowed to sit in the big new machine before having our photos taken in front of it. He put on the blues and sounded the siren and to a person, we bounced up and down in the back shouting “We iz pompiers! We iz pompiers” You will understand that by the time the photos were done we were all fairly well knackered. I didn’t get to borrow one of the famous silver helmets for the photo but as we are invited back for a drink and a little ceremony when we get our certificates, I’ll try to get another photo with a lid on… I’m sure they won’t mind, they are such lovely people and thanks to all of them for putting up with me for a whole day. It’s more than most can manage. xxxxx