When time and training is of the essence
30 May 2013
Many first aiders envisage that they will be dealing with work-based accidents in their role however, as this personal account from Paula Farrell, a director of first aid training company Aid Training shows, you never know who will need life saving help at work and for what reason
After a visit to my GP for a chest infection I was prescribed antibiotics, which I have had many times before. As I was in town, a trip to the bakers to pick up a sandwich and some jam doughnuts for the girls in the office seemed a must! Back in the office I ate the tuna fish sandwich and then took the first dose of antibiotics. It was then that my hands started to frantically itch and my lips started to tingle.
As an employee of a first aid training company I am lucky to be surrounded by people with strong first aid and medical backgrounds.
My colleague - a qualified nurse - took one look at me and said: "You need to get to hospital now!" We extracted another colleague from a training course - ironically a first responder course - who drove me straight to our local hospital, less than two minutes drive away, while an ambulance was called to meet me there. His aim was to get me the adrenaline in the quickest time.
The reaction was fast, I had severe vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of sight and collapsed within little more than five minutes from the start of the reaction. Although my colleague's experience and knowledge was hugely reassuring, I genuinely thought I was going to die.
I was given the required injection and taken in the ambulance to hospital, where I spent the day on drips and under observation. It was a very frightening experience, one that many people experience and do not survive - this is a life threatening condition.
My thoughts after this event were, what if I had been alone or with someone who had no idea what was happening to me? What if a reaction occurred to someone who couldn't call for an ambulance or get anyone to help? What if this happened to a child and the parent had no idea of what was happening? The speed in which this condition becomes life threatening requires people around the victim to recognise the symptoms and manage the situation quickly.
I take some solace in knowing that our company has trained hundreds of thousands of people over the last decade in anaphylaxis awareness and I was lucky that the people around me knew how to react, I'm not sure all employees would be so fortunate.