The vital importance of being able to administer first aid in an individual crisis situation was emphasised and practiced at a basic first aid training session on 10 June. It was sponsored by Medtronic Africa, a member of the world’s largest international medical technology company, based in the USA. Medtronic Africa, based in Midrand, is a premier corporate supporter of Rays of Hope which has a major charity outreach into Alexandra township.

The presentation was given to 19 enthusiastic participants, almost all of them crèche owners in Alex. The crèches concerned are those where Rays of Hope has a direct involvement. Upskilling the owners in first aid was far more than a good idea: it’s a skill that forms an indispensable part of their duties and responsibilities in taking good care of the many children who daily attend their crèches.

The afternoon’s lively talk-and-demo session was offered at Medtronic’s behest by Philip Jones, operations director of Jones Consulting, whose product and service portfolio covers all aspects of occupational health, safety and environmental management, as well as emergency and disaster management. Philip was ably assisted by his wife Tanya, who is also involved in the company.

The programme kicked off with a close examination of the critical, and often life-saving, practice of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, better known as CPR, applicable where a person is unconscious. The various appropriate safety considerations, precautions, methods and techniques that must be performed were carefully shown and thoroughly explained and demonstrated by Philip. He showed the correct techniques by practising CRP on the medical dummies of an adult, a young child and a baby. His demo was supported by easy-to-read slides.

Apart from CPR, a wide range of emergency situations was discussed, illustrated and practised. In each case there was a demo of which remedies to use or actions to take. Equally important, what not to do was also emphasised. The emergencies “on display” in the form of illustrations or dummies were things like seizures, choking, burns, nosebleeds, contusions, abrasions, lacerations, objects such as a nail stuck right through a finger, and even an ugly gunshot wound. In each emergency, those present learnt the specific steps and prescribed actions to be followed if the intervention is to be successful and – in critical cases – to ensure that the victim will survive.

Philip offered many easy-to-remember hints and tips concerning the correct way of promptly assisting a person in dire need. The selection and correct use of first-aid equipment contained in the soon-to-be issued first-aid kits, such as various-sized plasters and bandages, was also made clear.

After each demo the attendees had to walk the talk by splitting up into groups of three and performing the appropriate technique on one another on the floor. Philip moved around the crowded floor, carefully stepping over sprawling bodies while observing the goings-on with a critical eye and patiently correcting any incorrect actions. Often the procedures and manoeuvres had to be performed repeatedly – and vocally.

The serious and often life-saving art and practice of applying CRP and other techniques correctly and with confidence was punctuated throughout the afternoon by gales of laughter, jokes and wisecracks, mostly in response to Philip’s practical, energetic and engaging manner. Laughter can indeed be the best medicine.

At the end of the training session all participants were presented with a Jones Consulting certificate in Basic First Aid. Trish Lockwood, Rays of Hope’s Operations Manager, said each crèche represented at the session would be receiving a first aid kit, also sponsored by Medtronic, in due course.