Learning Basic Cardiac Life Support

Two weeks ago, at the urging of a friend, the both of us attended a Basic Cardiac Life Support course at the Singapore First Aid Training Centre.  Except it didn’t feel like basic to me!  This course aims to equip participants with the skills for resuscitating the collapsed adult and infant victims.  A noble cause I thought, although I am not sure I will ever be brave enough to resuscitate someone who has collapsed and needed cardiac support.  With 95% funding, I only needed to pay $21, of which I could claim what’s left in my Skills Future Credit.  I can afford the time, so why not?

You see, when I was in secondary school, I joined the Red Cross, fuelled by the need to help people who are hurt.  I learned first aid, evacuation, and foot-drill since it is considered a uniform group.  I think I spent more time under the sun practising foot-drill than first aid, leading a platoon of 36 into foot-drill competitions.  We had to starch our uniforms ultra stiff so that we look smart and polish our boots so shiny that we could see our own face.  How all these help to administer more effective first-aid, I have no idea!  I don’t think we learned CPR at that point.  As I got older, the sight of blood made my knees go weak.  I can probably dress my own wounds and do a decent bandage but helping others with their wounds, I have my doubts!

I sat through the 1-day program wanting to do my best, even if I would never get a chance to use these skills.  There were only 8 of us in the class, so very cosy with lots of personal attention from the trainers.  What we didn’t realize was that this course was meant for medical profession, healthcare workers — people who have a medical background.  No wonder we were the 2 slowest in class with the most questions.  Now, why didn’t the training centre highlight this to us when we registered for the course?  No wonder I felt lost most of the time.

When it came to practical, OMG!!!  It was hard work doing CPR on the dummy.  30 chest compressions, 2 breaths, and we had to do 5 cycles without stopping.  That meant 150 compressions!!!  My poor wrists and hands.  The trainers kept saying if our wrists hurt, then it means we were doing it wrong.  I am sorry, no matter what the technique is — locking your arms and pushing down with your weight — it still boils down to pushing very hard on your wrists and there is contact between the bottom of your palm and the dummy.  They said it’s not about strength — I don’t believe it.  After every 30 compressions, we had to blow into the dummy’s mouth twice and see the chest moves.  Sometimes I could do it well, other times my breath went nowhere.  The theoretical portion took only a couple of hours, most of the day was spent practising on the dummy.

We were told the basic cardiac course was from 9AM to 8PM but we were done by 4PM, earlier if we hadn’t taken that long to pass the practical.  We had to make sure our compression was hard enough so that the dummy would register the pressure and the breaths to prove successful cardiac support.  I didn’t pass in my first attempt.  After a rest, I tried again and passed.  My poor friend tried 8 times before finally passing.  I was exhausted, so I can imagine how tired she must be.

The worse was yet to be.  The next day, my whole body ached from all that physical exertion.  My wrists and the palm of my hands felt the worst.  It took a few days before all the aches and pain went away.  If you ask me, was the course worth all that stress, pain and time?  Sure!  These are useful skills to know even if I doubt I will ever use them again unless in dire need of cardiac support and I am the absolute last choice! But perhaps the Basic First Aid course would be more appropriate for people with no medical knowledge.  I should have checked out the various course options before blindly signing up.  So check out the list of courses available here.

Now in search for my next learning experience……………


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