So yesterday I took a day off from work. Nothing special. I took a first aid course or “Erste Hilfe Kurs”. It cost around 50 Euros and took the entire day from 10 to 5. Well, it’s not that I suddenly realised that I should know how to react in emergency life support situations. This is a mandatory requirement for any one who wants to make a new driving license in Germany or, as in my case, wants to convert their foreign driving licence.
To make things interesting, the course was entirely in German. Although my language skills have been a little bit rusty for the last year or so, I am still happy (and proud) that I was able to manage through it (listening, understanding and a bit of speaking too) without any issues.
I must admit, initially I considered this course as just another beaurocratic hurdle to pass for converting my license. But sitting through this informative course bombarded with life saving tips really changed my perspective and made me realise how helpful it can be in emergency situations. Ok it’s not that a one day course would make you an expert professional in first aid, but in such emergency situations something is indeed better than nothing. And I believe it can help save so many lives if more people train on first aid.
Here are some of the things that I learnt during the day:
1. In Germany you are required, by law, to carry in your car reflective vests, a triangle stand to warn incoming traffic of an accident and a full fledged first aid kit.
2. The type of road you are driving on determines how far you keep the warning triangle from your car. E.g. for roads with 50 kmph speed limit you keep the warn triangle at least 50m before the vehicle.
3. You are obligated to help someone if you happen to see them in trouble. If ignored, there could be fines! As a first aid helper, the law protects you so don’t be afraid to help others in need.
4. How to help an unconscious person out of a car and check if they’re breathing.
5. How to perform emergency CPR (or HLW i.e. Herz Lungen Wiederbelegung) on the course dummy “Anne”. This was my first time attempting CPR, even on a dummy.
6. How to react in situations like heart attack, stroke, amputation etc.
7. How to bandage common wounds with and without external objects.
8. How to manage broken arms with an easy DIY sling.
9. How to manage situstions like nose bleeds, heat strokes, frost bites, poisoning, burns etc.
10. And much more!
There were some things I already knew and some which were totally new for me. It was very interesting to learn which stable condition to lie in for what kind of situation. For example in certain cases it is beneficial to lie down on the back with feet up on a chair so that the ‘important organs’ have priority in blood circulation. There were also some things where I was unintentionally misinformed. For example, did you know that during a nose bleed you’re supposed to leave the head hanging low to let the blood out, instead of raising the neck to avoid bleeding.
Overall it was a wonderful day of learning. Maybe it is normal for people here. But for someone coming from India this was a totally new concept. I thoroughly enjoyed gaining so much knowledge about first aid. More importantly I also understood how essential it can be in emergency situations.
Image Courtesy: Snoopy