Emma has always loved helping people – so when she became a British Red Cross first aid trainer ten years ago, she knew she’d found the perfect fit. After all, her role allows her to empower people with the skills and confidence needed to help someone when they need it most.
“Teaching people how to potentially save a life is one of the best parts of my job,” she says. “The best part of training is having people leave feeling confident that they have the skills and knowledge to save someone’s life. It’s very rewarding.”
A decade of first aid training
Emma joined the Red Cross 12 years ago, working in administration. Having studied as a sports therapist, she was keen to put her skills to use and soon trained to be an event first aider before moving into first aid training. She now delivers a range of first aid courses as well as moving and handling and fire marshal courses.
Her knowledge of anatomy and physiology have helped her in her role, she says, along with support and development provided by the Red Cross. “That knowledge has helped, but the Red Cross have worked with me on the teaching side of things. They do put so much time and effort into their trainers. I had the opportunity to do a Level 3 BTEC Award in Education and Learning, which is helping me give my learners the best experience.”
“Everyone should know first aid.”
Emma is a firm believer that everyone should learn first aid.
“It’s for life, it’s a life skill. If I can give those skills to people through their work and know that they could use them at home as well then that’s good job satisfaction for me,” she says.
Keeping courses fun and engaging is key in helping people remember the skills, Emma explains. “I think if you’re having fun you tend to take in what you’re learning. Learners will gain new confidence so they can feel when they leave that they could apply those skills in a real life setting.”
Putting the learner first
A key part of Red Cross first aid training, explains Emma, is tailoring the learning to suit the attendees. At the beginning of each course she and the learners will develop a course agreement, outlining what they expect from the course and each other.
“From that I’m able to ask the learners how they like to learn best,” she says. “Not everyone likes someone to stand and talk; not everyone likes to read; not everyone likes to write, so I get the learners to jot down on a sticky note how they learn best. Obviously I have a structure I have to stick to to meet the guidelines, but I can deliver that in so many ways.
“I’ll also ask them what their main objective is, something that they want to leave with. A lot of times a buzz word is ‘confidence’, so they want to feel nice and confident when they leave. It might just be that they want to refresh their skills, but they’ve got the option to let me know right from the word go what they want to get out of the course.”
Remembering key actions
Recapping the key actions at the end of each session is a key aspect of training, Emma says.
“At the end of each session you always recap,” she says. “We want everything to be easy to remember in a time of emergency. So for example, if someone is unresponsive and breathing, lying on their back, remember to get that person on their side with their head tilted back. That’s the key action.”
One activity that people always enjoy on workplace first aid courses is AED (Automated External Defibrillator) training, explains Emma.
“Everyone knows what a defib or an AED is, but if you ask people who haven’t had training if they would be prepared to use one, most people will say: ‘Oh no, I’m scared of doing something wrong, I could harm somebody.” Then after the session people say: ‘Honestly that is so simple, I can’t believe how easy they are.” I always encourage people to tell their family and friends about these machines because the chances of survival increase dramatically if they are used. Most people are frightened to use them but they’re the simplest things.”
Keeping learners safe
It’s been a challenging year, says Emma, but learners have been impressed with the measures taken to keep them safe.
Examples of safety measures include caution tape on the floor to aid social distancing, masks provided for trainers and delegates, cleaning stations and a health declaration form which delegates must sign twice a day. Each learner has their own mannequin which they inflate themselves and insert fresh lungs, guided by the trainer.
Emma gets satisfaction from being able to reassure learners. “When walking through the door I think they’re a bit apprehensive,” she says. “They’re wearing a mask and they see me wearing a mask, and they’re not sure where to sit – but once you’ve done that introduction you see their shoulders dropping and you know they’re a wee bit more relaxed. I’ve had numerous feedback forms saying people have been impressed with all the systems the Red Cross has put in place to help keep everyone safe.”
“Every day is a school day.”
One thing Emma has learned from her time as a trainer is that you never stop learning on the job.
“Every day is a school day,” she says. “You can teach the same course over and over but as a trainer you always learn. You learn from learners; you learn from yourself.
“It’s great, it keeps me on my toes.”
Topics: First Aid