Saturday, December 01, 2012

Don't Feel Helpless

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? If, like me, you watch every show with eager anticipation (even if it is from behind the sofa), you will no doubt be very familiar with the front door of the TARDIS. In particular, you will have seen numerous clips showing the distinctive black and white badge of the St John Ambulance on that very door (yes, even the Doctor travels everywhere with a first aid kit).

Well, the latest news is that the St John Ambulance, the country’s leading first aid organisation, has hitched a ride with Downton Abbey (another of my favourites), screening the first viewing of its new, hard-hitting campaign during the first episode of the latest season of Downton Abbey a few weeks ago. If you happened to miss it (the campaign, not Downton), do not worry as I will give you a web-link a little later.

The St John Ambulance film is called ‘Helpless’. It is a highly emotive drama, depicting the story of a young man who is diagnosed with cancer, is treated and survives; only to die of choking at a celebratory barbecue with his family. Why did he die? He died because nobody knew how to save him with simple first aid.

It is a worrying fact that so many people have not taken a first aid course because they do not see the point of doing so, or think it will take up too much time. However, there is a very good chance that everyone will get called upon to act as a first aider at some time in their lives. The tragedy is that some 140,000 people die needlessly each year, when simple first aid could have saved their lives. 140,000 deaths is equivalent to the number of people who die from cancer each year. Yet, despite these terrible statistics, 41% of people recently surveyed said that it would take something as severe as the death of a loved one to make them learn first aid. The obvious question is, why wait until then? Why not learn first aid now and be in a position to save your loved one from dying?

Fewer than 1 in 5 of our population knows first aid. If you are one of those four people who doesn’t, please take a moment to watch the new St John Ambulance film ‘Helpless’ ( and then ask yourself whether you would have known what to do. If the answer is ‘no’, then enrol now for a first aid course ( or at least download a free first aid app for your mobile phone ( or request a free pocket-sized guide ( or text HELP to 80039). There is even an on-line game for the children (; after all, it is often children who help the adults in times of emergencies.

Don’t feel helpless. Don’t wait for a loved one to die before you act. Learn first aid now and be the difference – the difference between a life lost and a life saved.

(First published in the Scunthorpe Telegraph, Thursday, 11th October 2012.)

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