The Joys of a First Aid Course

Posted on November 20, 2014

I don’t know why, but whenever I go on courses I always feel a tremendous sense of isolation in the build up. I think this because once taken I am out of the comfort zone of my chosen peers, my confidence evaporates and I start feeling an overwhelming sense that I am about to make a fool of myself.

I think this stems back to the first ever course I went on as a naive 22 year old sales rep for Manders Paints when I made the mistake of going on a drinking binge with a Glaswegian. This resulted in the telling of a crude joke that upset just about everyone apart from my new alcoholic friend and some other liver transplant waiting to happen from Hartlepool.

25 years on, every time I enter a hotel conference room, the feeling of excessive central heating and the sight of a serious looking man setting up an overhead projector still brings back shuddering memories of that night/day and a hideously misguided joke about little Tommy’s dad not doing the decorating because it took the cunt ages (contagious).

So, when I entered the room for my First Aid course and saw an intense looking chap in cheap black slacks and incredibly shiny Doctor Marten boots, I knew this was a day to stay in control of my personal ‘Imp of the Perverse’ by keeping my mouth firmly shut. This is something I find really difficult, it’s a form of Tourette’s I think.

I then did what I normally do at these events and proceeded to scan the room for the course cretin. You know the type, the fantasist who perpetually asks questions and has been involved in more preposterous sounding examples of health and safety incidents than you could count on all the fingers and toes of your relatives and friends.

“I remember a chap at our place who swallowed a power drill and we had to perform a Caesarian section…He sued us because we hadn’t asked his permission. Another example of political correctness gone mad!!!”

However my scan proved inconclusive as there were only eleven of us, including, seven tree surgeons, a man and a woman from a manufacturing company in Basingstoke and another IT guy with an attractive young lady in her early twenties. She clearly didn’t want to be there, wearing the look of someone who would rather be doing the late shift as a cleaner at the London Borough of Hackney public toilets.

I privately thanked The Lord that there were seven tree surgeons and not three as this allowed me to avoid a crap joke involving the three Irish Doctors looking for a job for Tree Surgeons and also gave me time to settle down in silence with my pen and pad.

Then the tutor began.

“Okay folks, my name is Gary, I have been in the Marines and the SAS and I now work as a private protection officer in any country you wouldn’t choose for your holidays…why do I do this? Because I like teaching people…the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!”

Oh no, this is all I needed, an ex-serviceman who is either a psychopath or has been reading too many books called ‘I’m a Bravo’ by that bloke Andy McNackers or whatever his name is.

The last time I dealt with one of these types was on a team building course in Cornwall about 15 years ago when an alleged ex-marine took us surf boarding in the bitter cold of early February. For someone like me, surfing is a ludicrous idea in summer yet alone winter. The only other time I had surfed I fell off but the board kept going as far as the elastic would take it before catapulting back in my unsuspecting face, leaving me looking like the victim of a shark attack..

“My name is Charlie, I am an ex-marines physical instructor. You are safe in my hands as I have surfed all around the world.”

I couldn’t help myself and quipped “Wow that was a big wave”. It was a joke that suggested, given half the chance, a furious looking Charlie would bide his time, before seeing to it that I would die in a tragic drowning incident. Rather than hanging around to find out, I went home. I haven’t surfed since.

So the course proceeded and I did really well, keeping my mouth shut despite various tales of violent incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan being used as examples of administering first aid and there was one point when he said, “So, remember, it’s head, shoulders…”

How I avoided saying “knees and toes” is testimony to the discipline that maturity has offered me.

“So, has anyone witnessed arterial bleed? Believe me, if you see one, you will know. I once had to stand on the neck off a man to stop the blood pumping out…We lost him.”

You probably broke is neck mate.

“I saw a Gurkha commit suicide by shooting himself in the eye…You would not believe the exit wound?”

I have to say, this guy was scaring the shit out of me, because even if he was telling lies he was clearly not well. I have come to the conclusion that a fantasist is potentially more dangerous than the real deal.

“Has anyone in here been bitten by a human? I have.”

Thought as much.

“If someone is cold with shock, keep them warm, use your body heat…I did this with a colleague in Norway when it was -35c “

We then went through all the suff with regards to resuscitation, mouth to mouth, recovery positions and how to approach a victim.

“Approach from the feet end of their bodies and calmly tell them the truth about the situation.”

I’m not sure I would be able to do that?

“Hello, I am Bob and I am a qualified first aider, please try to stay calm.”


Well, I am no expert but judging by that arterial wound, I think you might be right?”

There are times when you have to lay on bullshit and my assessment is that it is at times like these when you have to do it with spades.

We then did the chest pumping thing with a dummy, followed by the recovery position and guess what…I got teamed up with the attractive young woman who had shown absolutely no signs of wanting to be there.

It had to happen.

Some may argue that this should have been an exciting thing but I am not a pervert and unless it is my girlfriend, I don’t like touching people in public and I don’t like them touching me, which probably suggests I would be a useless first aider.

As I leant over her prostate body I felt this terrible sense that something was about to go catastrophically wrong. A recent cold has given me a terrible snotty nose and the room temperature had created beads of sweat on my forehead; it was an awful situation to be in.

I had this terrible vision of slipping as I hurried through the task, and in the process, planting my hand firmly on her breast before trying to laugh off the situation with a piss poor impression of Sid James from the Carry On Films.

Sensing an heroic scenario, the tutor would then stick his size 10 Doc Marten into the side of my head, resulting in a semi-conscious police escort to Basingstoke and North Hants Hospital.

“Have any of you ever fractured the skull of a rapist? I have!”

This time fortune stayed on my side and despite feeling awkward with the face of a woman I have never met before sitting in the palm of my hand, the event passed off peacefully and I exited the building content that my imp for the perverse was intact.

When I eventually got home, I went to get all the notes I had written down about my tutor for the purposes of this blog post and with utter panic, I realised I had left them on the desk.

Next Week: How to dress your own exit wound.

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