On the 23rd of December, I followed a one-day First Aid training offered by the Red Cross. I had meant to do that for years, but somehow always opted out of doing it. Now that I have a concrete goal, that of going helping in Lesvos, I figured it would really not go amiss.
I also wanted to make sure my German was good enough to follow such training. Probably making excuses – most of the things are not theory, but practice, and don’t require any language skills. The training lasted nine hours. I remember when I passed my driving license, one of the instructor was getting mad at me all the time because I was asking too many questions instead of trying to drive. I just like to understand things before I do them, so I figured I had to understand the mouth-to-mouth method before practicing it.
Now I know it’s no rocket science, but before the course I had always wondered what good it could bring to force CO2 into the lungs of someone not breathing normally. Now that I’m *trained*, I understood that the main thing is to keep the lungs functioning and irrigated, and that even CO2 instead of oxygen can do just that (obviously I didn’t graduate from med school). I also didn’t know that only once in a million times would the person on whom the resuscitation act is performed wake up while you’re trying to keep him going. Most of the time, you would just provide him with air long enough for his brain to be saved before the real helpers – the paramedics, arrive.
Also, apparently you can happily break a rib away, it means you’re actually doing something efficient. But if you do, just be aware that you’re probably performing your cardiac massage a tad too eagerly. So ease up, but sustain the pace. 30 massages, two mouth-to-mouth, 30 massages, two mouth-to-mouth, for as long as it takes for the ambulance and medics to arrive.
Since most of the people were here because they needed to get their certificate to pass their driving license, most of the course was oriented on road accidents. My German vocabulary considerably widened on top of now being able – in theory, and in practice without the stress induced by a real situation – to handle an injured person. The several workshops were instructive, although I didn’t really find room for my questions, such as “what to do when a boat comes ashore?” and other sea-related questions. That will come with the First Aid at sea training.
While fruitful, the day was also long, and tiring, not because of the content of the course and all the practice we’ve done on manikins, but because most of the people there had no interest, and weren’t here by choice. They were cracking poor jokes all the time, making sexually explicit comments about manikins whenever possible – which was remotely funny for, maybe, twenty minutes, before it got really boring. One man didn’t laugh at their jokes, we ended up practicing together. He was Syrian and also didn’t find the situations we were shown funny at all.
The organizer, a petite and beautiful looking woman, was very patient with everyone. I wasn’t, because I could have learned so much more hadn’t we wasted half of our time listening to fifteen idiots cracking bad jokes. But in the end of the day, only the outcome counts, and now I got that first piece of paper and – most important – I know in theory what to do should I witness a situation requiring First Aid treatment.
If you like bad jokes – or really want to get your First Aid certificate (or any other certificate delivered by the Red Cross, including First Aid for kids, First Aid at Sea, etc…), you can easily register here.
Today, December 29th, I’m just back from donating blood. Again, it’s scarier than it sounds when you’re not familiar with the process. I don’t mention it to claim a medal for my good deed – since I’m already trying to secure my place in Heaven through my volunteering work (that is sarcastic and refers to that event). I mention it because every time I give blood, I’m told by the paramedics working that day that they don’t have enough donors.
Today, of all days, they need it, because this week of the year is particularly bad in terms of road and domestic accidents. Hearing all the fireworks which started already, I can only imagine why. New Year’s Eve won’t start smoothly for some.
It mostly doesn’t hurt, however, there is a needle involved – no one likes needles. Even when it’s your tenth time, they still try to make you feel at ease, talk to you all the time, make sure you’re fit enough. It makes you feel slightly tired afterwards – so better stay away from physical activities in the hours that follow – but it’s little trouble for the result as it can save a life.
Today as I pump out my half liter of blood, I get to chat with a man in his sixties, likewise donating and lying on the opposite bed. We don’t know each other – so we chat about our blood types. He has the rarest blood, from the O group, and is pretty proud about it. I note that it’s all very well as a donor, but if he ever needs a transfusion he’ll be pretty screwed, and we laugh. Only in Berlin: he tells me he comes from Dresden and had been imprisoned in Naumburg for having taken part at a demonstration back in the 1980s. We’re sharing a tea and a sandwich, and go our separate ways once out of the Red Cross truck. Today, almost 40 pints of blood will be driven to Chemnitz, where they will be analyzed, before being dispatched throughout Berlin and Brandenburg hospitals. It cost me 40 minutes of my time, and each of us can do that four and up to five times a year.
More relevant information on the German Red Cross website for blood donation.