As a first responder - and as any of my professional paramedic friends will say -- there's nothing worse than attending a drowning incident involving a child and finding people standing around panicking and unsure of what to do.
With the prevalence of backyard pools in Australia and our love of the water, it's an all too common scenario. To know that there was a chance to save that child's life if only someone had even attempted CPR is just awful.
People panic -- we get that -- but first responders are human too and any incident involving a child really hits you emotionally.
Even rudimentary first aid skills could make all the difference in a drowning situation. Especially involving kids. Because with quick intervention -- a drowning child has got a better chance of making it than adults do.
Statistics show that injuries and accidents are the leading cause of death in children aged 1-14 -- and boys make up two thirds of that number.
Yet 40 percent of parents say they wouldn't be confident in knowing what to do if their child -- or another child or adult -- were drowning and 25 percent say they wouldn't be confident in administering CPR to a child.
I'm a parent to two kids myself and I can't imagine any worse feeling in an emergency situation involving a child, than looking back and thinking "I wish I'd known what to do or I wish I'd done that first aid course I kept saying I'd do".
A fairly minor accident I witnessed has always stayed with me. I saw a boy running around the edge of a swimming pool -- in what seemed like slow motion, he slipped and bashed his face resulting in quite a nasty cut in his mouth.
Those kind of injuries tend to bleed a lot but aren't necessarily serious. What really struck me was that his mum had no idea what to do and she went into shock herself because of the panic. She was screaming and crying and it was actually making her son worse.
Of course, it's understandable. No parent can stand to see their child hurt or in pain, but if the Mum had a bit of an idea what to do she would've felt so much better because she had the skills to help her son.
Everyone's busy, but in the critical moment where even a bit of first aid knowledge could save a life, I think most parents would rather be able to say they'd done all they could to prepare.
The stats say that around 50 percent of parents say they don't have any first aid knowledge at all or wouldn't know how to treat certain injuries.
The most common injury incidents involving kids under 15 -- after car accidents -- would be sporting related or falls especially from trampolines or bikes, scooters or skateboards. These often result in concussions, sprains and fractures.
Most people know what to do to stem bleeding, but I've lost count of the times I've seen a big icepack dumped on top of a break or fracture which can actually cause more pain and damage because of the pressure.
People see swelling and immediately think ice but it's not always the right thing to do. Just even knowing a bit about assessing injuries is helpful.
Other injuries or issues we'd most commonly see affecting kids are usually to do with burns, poisoning, choking, asthma or anaphylaxis attacks.I think having a broad range of first aid skills particularly those that cover off issues most likely to affect kids is a good place to start but even only knowing something about CPR is useful.
St John Ambulance WA offers a specific nationally accredited CPR course where you can come in for half a day and train in the recovery position and basic CPR. We also run Caring For Kids courses during school hours which covers all the major first aid components, including CPR, then if you want, you can go into more advanced training too.
First aid knowledge can go such a long way in making a bad situation less awful. I think of having first aid skills, especially as a parent, as like a type of insurance on your child.
Of course they'll help if the worst happens -- and hopefully you'll never need them -- but the peace of mind is priceless too.
St John Ambulance WA offer a range of first aid courses, teaching everything from basic resuscitation through to treating burns, bleeding, choking and more. St John's Caring for Kids course is ideal for those with babies or young children and covers a variety of child-specific first aid skills. If you're looking for a nationally accredited course, then the HLTAID003 Provide First Aid course is all encompassing and will equip you with the skills to deal with different first aid situations.