Summer months in DC, with their high level of physical activity and tourism, often remind me of the importance of official training in basic first aid and safety. Recently, for example, at a Saturday afternoon BBQ party, a friend of mine suddenly felt nauseous and woozy. He sat down and promptly fainted. Even though it’s been 3+ years since my Red Cross First Aid and CPR certification, my training came quickly back to me. We called 911, gently moved him to the ground (during which time he came to), put a pillow under his head, raised his legs up on a chair and kept him calm and talkative until the paramedics arrived. Ultimately, it was just a fainting spell caused by dehydration and the heat, and my friend was fine, but it was a startling experience to say the least.
And here’s where our local chapter of the American Red Cross comes in. They offer a range of health and safety courses, for a nominal fee and time commitment, that will teach you the knowledge and skills necessary to give care in an emergency, help sustain life and minimize consequences of injury or sudden illness until medical help arrives. These skills can range from critical “must haves” in emergency situations to just plain useful skills for around the house minor mishaps. All in all, the classes offer simple and necessary lifeskills that should we ever need to use could be lifesaving.