First Aid Schools

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

At First Aid Schools we firmly believe that teaching essential life-saving skills is a must for everyone. Here, we present real-life accounts of how even basic first aid training can make a difference and even save a life.

10am on a mild June morning a heavily pregnant Tracy and her two year old daughter (Amelie) were heading to the local bakery in search of a gingerbread man. As they walked past a bus stop full of waiting passengers, Tracy saw a person laying half on, half off a low wall in an awkward, unnatural position. Upon closer inspection, she saw it was an elderly gentleman who was not moving. Nearby there was a gentleman watching but without the inclination to approach the elderly man.

Tracy felt compelled to do something. She summoned the gentleman hovering around and asked him to stand with Amelie (away from the main road) while she went to help. There was no response from the old chap. Tracy immediately recognised the condition known as ‘agonal’ breathing – a gasping or gargling from the mouth which sounds like breathing but is a sign the body is shutting down.

She shouted for help and dialed 999 as others arrived. A lady then took Amelie to one side while Tracy and others lowered the male to the floor. Here she also noticed a bleed from the head. There was confusion as there often is in this type of situation (an unresponsive casualty, a head injury, gasping sounds)… people regularly mistake agonal breathing for normal breathing. A person who is left without CPR in this situation is being left to die. Tracy knew this and was adamant in her assessment. She began chest compressions as others deliberated. Another lady then stepped forward and they shared the load for the next 5 minutes or so.

By this time a nearby dentist had been alerted and arrived with a defibrillator. All three worked together to apply the defib and continue CPR. The first shock was unsuccessful but CPR was continued by the dentist until paramedics arrived shortly after and took over. Tracy returned to Amelie and gave her a hug.

Only when she visited a nearby pub a day or so later was she informed that the gentleman was alive and well, recovering in a hospital bed.

Tracy is a normal lady who simply saw the need to check on a fellow human being. She had undertaken a first aid course several months before and was aware of what to do. However, nothing prepares a person for the worry, panic and responsibility you feel in this situation. 

What do I do? 

Should I move the person? 

Are the others right, is he breathing? 

Time stands still. Some people crumble. Some people do nothing. Tracy took charge and tried to help. Her desire to help was the catalyst for others to join her. Even today she still feels she could have done things better and acted quicker. However, here at First Aid Schools we are convinced that without Tracy, this elderly gentleman would not have survived.

Sometimes it is the easiest things that we as a society turn our back on. A man lying on a wall for quite some time (according to CCTV). Another man loitering and looking but doing nothing. A bus stop full of people all able to see the figure lying in an unorthodox position but not one person feeling the need to approach!

Food for thought…

  • Doing something and checking to see if a person is ok takes nothing. Wouldn’t you want it for your dad, mum, son or daughter
  • CPR can be undertaken by anyone. Knowing when to do it is key. Tracy didn’t give mouth to mouth that day. She gave continuous chest compressions, the ambulance arrived fairly quickly, and a life was saved.
  • Would you have the confidence to do the same? Get in touch if you’d like some training where the focus is just as much about increasing confidence.

If you’re unfamiliar with what agonal breathing looks and sounds like, check out the short video below.

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Tracy’s Story