How to Save a Life – First Aid Training With The British Red Cross

In the past I have read stories of normal people saving lives with first aid on their way to work. Someone collapses on the train you are on, or starts choking on their blueberry breakfast muffin. Or, as a cycle commuter, the worst happens and you witness a fellow cyclist in a crash. I like to think that I would be as willing to help out. However, do I really know what to do and would my lack of confidence get in the way when help is needed the most?

I suspect the later – I really want to help but am so scared of doing something wrong that I don’t. In theory I know how to do chest compressions to an unresponsive person, or help someone who is cut or wounded, but I have never really been told. Confidence is often key, so really I am not prepared. Luckily I have not needed to be, but you never know what could happen tomorrow.


The British Red Cross know that I am not the only one who would want to help but lack confidence. Apparently 90% of us cyclists feel that we should look out for our fellow two-wheelers, but only 40% of us would actually be confident enough to help when the time came.

Head injury

To this end, the Red Cross is launching a new campaign called #upyourgame to boost the skills and confidence of the cycling community (and those doing other sports).

They have lots of tips and advice on their website, along with a pretty useful app that gives you useful first aid advice or can walk you through an emergency situation.

Take a course

The website and app really help with basic knowledge, but there is nothing quite like in person instruction to reassure you that you do know what to do. If the idea of being able to help others is appealing to you, a first aid course is the way to go.

I did just this last week, joining an adult first aid course at the Red Cross centre at Euston. The 4 hour adult first aid course took me through various life threatening situations and the instructor told us what to do in each case. There were 15 of us on the course, and while some were doing it to refresh their skills, many were doing it because they felt they needed to know more first aid for general life situations – much like me.

People on first aid course

The group dynamic was helpful – we were able to discuss past experiences and learn from each other, as well as share tips and advice. The actual instruction was immensely useful as well. Being shown how to do chest compressions was incredibly helpful, it needs to be harder than you might think and being talked through it was a huge confidence boost.

There were also little intricacies of  positioning people to open their airway (the recovery position) that I found useful. As a small woman being able to move someone bigger than me, as most other adults are, could be challenging. The instructor showed us tricks and methods for making it easier.

Being able to ask questions and talk through potential injuries and situations really helped. For example, what do you do if someone needs to be moved to clear their airway, but has a broken or cut leg? This is a situation that might occur on the roads.

The App

The app is a great resource. It has all the information we were given on the course so you can read up on what to do in various situations, from basic cuts through to how to help someone who is non-responsive and not breathing. There is of course no real substitute for instruction and practice, but knowledge is still good.

App screen shot

Thinking through what you might be able to do in an emergency is very good preparation. It will help make you more aware of the things you can actually do, rather than worrying that you could not possibly be of any help. In turn, it will help to keep you calm if you do find yourself in the position of helping someone out with some first aid.

The app also has an emergency section. This is to be used if you are actually having to give first aid and it can act as a reminder and prompt to help you do the right things.

Emergency advice from app

The instructor in our course could not stress enough that keeping calm and keeping yourself safe are vitally important – the app helps you think things through.

If you would like to take a first aid course and feel more prepared to help others, you can book one through Red Cross on their website. You can get the app for Android or iPhone for free.

I also recommend reading our steps to keep in mind if you are ever in an accident post and how to prepare an ICE contact on your phone.

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One Response to How to Save a Life – First Aid Training With The British Red Cross

  1. David Smith 21/10/2016 at 4:06 pm #

    I recently had a heart attack whilst out cycling and went into cardiac arrest.
    I was lucky to survive and it took over 40 minutes to get my heart going.
    I was fortunate that I collapsed where I did as a passerby ,who had been trained,gave me CPR until the ambulance arrived!
    6 weeks later I am raring to get back on my bike.
    I will be signing up to training in my area when I’m back to my regular self.

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