I think I mentioned a few columns ago that though I consider myself a veteran parent in many ways nearly nine years in, we are still experiencing a lot of firsts in my family. Another first occurred the other day when I got the dreaded mid-day phone call from the school.
“Which one is it?” I asked the school secretary.
It was my youngest.
It wasn’t that she’d wet her pants. That’s still pretty common with the younger kids and she’s only in Grade 1. It wasn’t that she’d ripped her clothes and needed another set. I knew she had spare clothes at school.
It was that she fell.
My stomach sank.
Now, I have to tell you, our school’s head secretary is a pro at dealing with parents on the phone. She calmly explained that my youngest had fallen from a height, into a mud pit. She explained that they’d cleaned her up as best they could, and my daughter had changed her own clothes and that she seemed OK but the school had called me — and I loved this part — “because we always like to call the parents when we’re not returning their child in the same condition they were sent to school in.”
That cracked me up. Apparently she had a pretty good road rash on her cheek and that was my forewarning.
The secretary said my daughter was shaken but seemed OK so there was no need to go collect her early. We hung up and I ran across the street from the office to pick up some lunch at the Arbutus. It was the first time I’d ever left my mobile phone on my desk so, naturally, that was exactly when the school called back.
After some phone tag, I learned that, upon further review, my dear six-year-old was not at all her usual self and seemed to have an increasingly swollen wrist and that perhaps an X-ray was in order.
Five hours later, after excellent care by the doctor, the nurses, and the X-ray technician at the Chemainus Urgent Care Centre, who were clearly already run off their feet, it was a confirmed concussion and a broken wrist. Thankfully, both are relatively minor compared to what could have been.
As we drove home, I commended my daughter on what a great patient she’d been at the clinic.
“Mom!” she said. “That was the most patient I have ever been!”
The clinic staff told me the school had done a fabulous job caring for my child, and wrapping up her wrist just right. I agreed. It got me thinking about how useful and important knowing first aid really is.
Did you know there is currently a national recruitment drive at St. John Ambulance? I talked with Glyn Trafford, the superintendent for the Cowichan Valley’s St. John Ambulance division recently and he said new members are needed now more than ever.
“We lost many of our volunteers through the pandemic, and now we’re in a rebuilding/recruitment stage,” he explained. “Last year we had to turn a few events down because we’d lost members to the pandemic.”
We often see the St. John Ambulance crew doing first aid duties at events throughout the year. They attend roughly 45 events annually in the region.
“To do a public event you have to provide first aid,” Trafford explained. “If we’re not there to provide it, the not-for-profits usually can’t run their events because they don’t have the budget for off-duty paramedics.”
But without the membership, covering the Valley’s plethora of public events is impossible.
“It’s a lot of manpower,” Trafford said, adding they’d love to see another half-dozen members volunteer. “We are right down to brass tacks now. If I could get another five to 10 it’d be awesome. We’d be able to do all the duties and provide the coverage.”
Volunteers need to be at least 18 years old and have their standard first aid ticket. After a criminal record check, new members are given a year to complete an advanced medical first responder course. The training continues from there.
“We have weekly training — two hours every Monday — and we have other training as it comes up,” Trafford said. “Sometimes we have specialized weekend training for other medical components we take, as well. We kind of expect people to put in at least 60 hours per year but most people are well over 100.”
Trafford noted it’s a good position for those who are their office’s occupational first aid attendants as oftentimes those folks don’t get practice until there’s an emergency.
“If you like first aid or are in the first aid field, it’s a good way to get a lot of patient contact,” he said. “It just adds another level. It’s also fun. You’re out there, you’re meeting the community and going to some great events, be it a concert or a mountain bike race or a kids’ sock hop. It’s really rewarding giving back to the community.”
You’ll see the St. John Ambulance crew next at the Caleb Kroffat Memorial on Family Day at the Cowichan Community Centre, where they will be providing free CPR/AED training and trying to attract new members.
For more information, visit the St. Johns website at www.sja.ca.
As for my daughter, she’s back at school sporting a sweet little cast on her arm. She’ll be just fine, thanks to the great first aid she received from the staff at her school.