First Aid Comes to the Rescue

By Peter Corlett
August 2nd 2012

 The Westpac Rescue Helicopter landed in the Waikanae school grounds again recently — the second time the landing site has been used in the just a  few weeks. The emergency has also initiated a series of dramatic, and popular, first aid lessons for the students.

The call-out was for a Waikanae woman who had a heart attack.

And immediately the children who were outside went back into their classes to clear the school’s top field.

Then the local Fire Brigade, responsible for providing access to a suitable landing site, was able to let the Rescue Chopper pilots know the school grounds were available.

When the accident took place a week ago, an ambulance took the woman from her residence to the school where the helicopter was ready for her. She was then transferred to the helicopter while the fire service personnel maintained a safety perimeter, and she was flown to Wellington Hospital.

In the meantime the School children have been learning skills to prepare them for emergencies.

Lou Woodney  from NZ Red Cross spent a week at the School working with 5 classes  in the Te Aromoana  (Yr 5-6) syndicate running a “People Savers First Aid” course, teaching children how to get help and to save lives.

They learnt to follow the DRS and ABC

The children were told to follow two sets of alphabetical rules:

D-Check for dangers to keep the rescuer safe.

R– Try to get a response from the patient.

SSend for help.

Then, they were told :

A – Open the airways by tilting the head and lifting the chin. Put patient in a recovery position.

B – Check for breathing – Look, listen and feel the patient’s breath.

C Circulation – checking that the patient’s heart is working.

Children were involved in practical activities such as implementing the DRS and ABC and putting the ‘patient’ in a recovery position.

Common scenarios

The children learnt how to help someone who was choking and practiced using slaps on the back and chest thrusts if the patient could not cough or speak.

They discovered that they could use plastic bags or gloves to protect themselves if someone was bleeding, how to apply direct pressure to a wound, and to elevate the wounded area to reduce blood loss.

They also learnt how to deal with broken bones by keeping the injury still and supporting it, nose bleeds (sit down, pinch the nose and lean forward),  and burns and scalds (cool it, cover it and call for help). Also covered were  poisons found around the home or in the community (call the 0800POISON centre) and how to help someone in shock.

When asked about what they had learnt, Ryan Darton (Year 6) said: “I learnt how to help someone when they are choking.  Jack Richards replied: “I learnt how to put someone in the recovery position if they are unconscious.  It was fun doing the activity book.  I can’t wait to do the bandages and slings.” And Felix Ng (Year 5 Room 11) said: “I have been learning how to help people who are injured.  I would feel fantastic if I saved someone’s life”.

Waikanae School is planning a fund-raiser later in the term for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. While it is sad for the family that has had the medical emergency, it is also a powerful way for the children to learn about the helicopter and the important work the Life Flight Trust do in our region.