Back in Britain, I did not have to cram my brain with hard facts for an examination.
That’s why I have had some hard time adjusting while attending a standard first-aid course provided by the Hong Kong Red Cross.
“You have to do this [step] in order to pass the exam,” was the most frequently uttered line by my instructor.
There were indeed so many fine details to remember for the practical examination which included bleeding management, fracture management and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Protocols had to be strictly and accurately applied. While it is okay to forget one or two minor points — those that could make you look “smarter” as a professional first aid provider — you surely do not want to make some fatal mistakes that could harm the patient.
The instructor showed us how to use roller and triangular bandages. He is some Japanese origami master.
“To bandage a hand, wrap the roller bandage straight around the wrist twice, and then do the same around the fingers. With two ends fixed, you then can start bandaging like this diagonally …”
It was easier said than done, and a lot more difficult than what the instructor demonstrated when I attempted to do it myself on my partner.
I could not tell the direction of ups or downs, in and out, in the middle of handling a wound with bandages. My buddy was not doing anything close to what the instructor did either. Most of the time, we had some terribly messy wound dressings.
As a believer in “practice makes perfect”, I sought help from my colleagues, persuading them to be pseudo-patients.
“It’s okay for you to continue your work in front of the computer, what I need is to ‘borrow’ your forearm, wrist, upper and lower legs for bandaging,” I asked.
It was a small victory when some male colleagues who are known for their self-conscious image were willing to let me bandage their jaw. Everyone laughed as they made a stern face.
As my skills improved, I also started to time myself in order to perfect my delivery.
I have to admit that the sight of blood scares me. But life is full of uncertainty and you don’t know when someone might be in need of bleeding control or rescue.
Whenever I think of these life-threatening situations, I become less anxious and work harder to achieve the high international standard required by the written and practical examinations.
Even in real life, where I might not have the exact supplies and equipment of a first aid kit, I believe that what I learned from the course would allow me to be an effective helper during emergencies.
Lastly, I am proud to announce that I passed the exam. Right now, I am thinking about taking some intermediate training.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 21.
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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