5 things you can do in 5 minutes that might just save a life.

This week at work I once again became a fully qualified, certificate wielding First Aider. Go me! Many of you will have done the course, allowing access to the green box of magic in case of owwies. The course I went on was very engaging – an opportunity to learn the theory and practice the treatment of the most common trips, spills and uh-ohs that threaten our time on this planet. But beyond all the knowledge I gained there were a few little things that we can all do that might just come in handy one day. So, here are 5 things you can do in 5 minutes that might just save a life.

  1. Learn the emergency procedures in your office. Hopefully you’ll never be faced with a collapsed colleague or a blood stained boss but if you are the chances of you remembering the number you were told on your second day between that manual handling training and the online course about data protection is about the same as me winning the lottery (and I don’t enter). This means that you’ll ring 999 and when they ask “Which one of the University’s 109 buildings are you in and how do we get there” your jaw will fall about as fast as your patients chances of surviving. Many large organisations have on site security – find their emergency number and print it off next to your phone (and your colleagues phone in case you’re the one not breathing on the floor). If you work at a smaller company write down the details you’d need to know when that fan is spraying brown stuff – the room number, the postcode, the street name, and the phone number you are ringing from. If you have a heart attack your brain starts dying off after just a couple of minutes so those 30 seconds you save could make all the difference. Finally, if you work anywhere that has volunteers in who might need to ring for an ambulance (youth club, community centre, amateur theatre etc.) put this information where they might need it. 3 days after my last first aid course I was house manager at a theatre when the lead actress collapsed… And when I rang the ambulance I could do nothing more than repeat the name of the theatre.
  2. That’s all fine and dandy, I hear you say, but what happens if I’m not in the office? Fear not, say I. You can just open google maps and then enable the location settings (because it was off to save battery life) and then zoom in on when you are and then you’ve got distracted and swiped away and then there’s a few streets but you don’t know what town and then they want the postcode and… Or you could download one of the many apps called “where am I?”. They have one job – when you open the app they’ll give you the street address and postcode. It’s free and takes no memory and saves 15 seconds. And if you ever leave public highways and go onto the moors or along isolated canals then you should also get the OS locator app. This one gives you a latitude and longitude – useless for those lovely people driving ambulances but very helpful for the equally lovely mountain rescuers who’ll be on their way to help you. DISCLAIMER: what if you don’t have signal! Obviously you should try and know where you’re going first and have decent maps etc… but it’s better to have the app as a back up than to not have it.
  3. I hate to say this but films don’t always represent life saving accurately. The chances of CPR alone brining someone back are slim. If a defibrillator is used within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, survival rates jump from 6 per cent to 74 per cent. But just like above, the worst time to try and work out where your nearest AED lives is when you’re dealing with someone who has collapsed and you’re in full panic mode. Find out where it is now so that when you need it you know where to go. Check both your home address (this may be a public AED for which you need a code – ring 999 on the way, explain the situation and they’ll give you the code) and your office address (the University of Leeds has six public access AED’s – and every staff member is theoretically within three minutes of at one). Check where yours is at http://www.heartsafe.org.uk/AED-Locations – BUT the nearest AED to my home isn’t on here… So keep your eyes peeled when you are out and about as well.
  4. Did you know you can text 999? Originally set up for people who can’t speak or hear it turns out that this service is useful in lots of other situations. Stuck on the hills with not enough signal for a call? Put all the details in a text and it might get through. Passenger collapses in a traffic jam? If everyone else is ringing home your call might not make it – but a text might. If you get stuck in a building during a terrorist incident you don’t want to be doing a Dom Joly and shouting hello – but you could silently text vital information. What if the thing that injures you made a noise so loud you’re temporarily deafened? BUT YOU HAVE TO PRE-REGISTER YOUR PHONE TO BE ABLE TO TEXT 999. Take it out now and text “register” to 999. You’ll get a text back with information and a disclaimer about how they can’t always promise an immediate response, asking you to text back “yes” if you want to register. When you’ve done this they’ll confirm and ask you not to text again (unless it’s a genuine emergency, of course).
  5. Remember a few years ago you saved your nearest and dearest as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) on your phone? And how now your phone has a locking code so no-one can access your work emails/nudes/messages that are only between you, your spouse and Cambridge Analytica? Can you see the problem there? Luckily, technology has solved the problem technology created and there are lots of awesome apps with ICE in the title that put a message on your lock screen with emergency information (allergies, blood type etc) and a few key phone numbers. They are free and easy to use and you could have set them up in the time it took you to read this point.

I promise you that it will take less time to do these actions than it took to read this blog. I hope to heck you never have to use any of these but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

P.S. Just so you know I’m not messing you over with the texting 999 thing – here’s what happens. Screenshot_20180323-215551


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