Thursday, April 17, 2008


Nordic Walking UK First Aid Course, Helps Prevent Potential Medical Emergency

Among the range of great new courses launched by Nordic Walking UK this past month is a First Aid course specifically for Nordic Walking instructors. As an attendee on that first course I can say that it was very well worth attending!

I needed to update my First Aid qualification and just at the time I was starting to look for a local course I received notification about Nordic Walking UK's course. I was keen to attend (even though it involved a 200 mile round trip) because unlike most First Aid courses that tend to focus on first aid in the work place this course was speciafically aimed at Nordic Walking instructors working in the great outdoors!

The private company who delivered the course on behalf of Nordic Walking UK are HSE (Health & Safety Executive) licenced, the standard for First Aid training in the Uk, which means that as instructors we can use the qualification for instructor insurance purposes.

I must commend our course instructor Dawn who provided a great day of training and she really made the effort to make the course relevant to our work as outdoor instructors, whilst at the same time making sure the core syllabus was covered.

Was the course worth attending? Absolutely! Just one piece of advice Dawn gave only two weeks ago may have prevented an emergency situation arising in a new class I began teaching on Monday evening.

Dawn made a point of emphasized the importance not only of instructors requiring their clients / class members to complete a Pre-Exercise Screening Questionaire but (and here's the really important bit) - "Questioning" their class members / clients based on the information that they provide on that form. This is really basic, simple stuff, but it is so easy to overlook things that are basic and simple. We probably all do it from time to time.

One of my new class members on Monday evening was a lady who had stated on her form that she was asthmatic. Dawn had emphasized that an Asthma attack is one of the most frightening first aid emergencies to be faced with because if someone is having an asthma attack and their medication eg inhaler is not at hand they can die and you are suddenly in an emergency CPR situation!

I know it should be obvious but it is well worth emphasising how vitally important it is (it could be the difference between life & death!) that instructors ensure that asthmatics in their class carry their medication always!!! Also instructors must question class members and clients to make sure they have included "everything" that is relevent on the pre-exercise screening form.

One instructor on our course said that at the end of a recent Nordic Walking session a new client said "that was a great session and it didn't effect my asthma!" The instructor said "what asthma? You didn't put asthma on your form!" - The client said she didn't think it was important because she had lived with asthma for so long! Well here's how imortant it can be...

Before the start of my class on Monday I said to my new lady (the asthma sufferer), "do you have your inhaler with you?" She replied, I have left it in a bag on by bicycle! I asked her to go and get it and to give it to me to look after. Towards the end of the session we were about a quarter of a mile away from her bicycle (where she was going to leave her inhaler), when suddenly she started gasping for breath, she needed her inhaler urgently....

I was able to take it out of my back pack and she was able to take some breaths and she was fine. However, had I not made her go and get her inhaler from her bicycle at the start of the lesson, when she started struggling to breathe I would have had to run a half mile round trip during which time I would have had to identify her bicycle and find her inhaler (assuming she had been able to tell me where her inhaler was eg where her bicycle was and what it looked like whilst she was struggling to breathe)!

Would I have asked her to get her inhaler had I not done this first aid course so recently? Put it this way it was so clear in my mind after the asthma discussion we had on the course, that it was at the front of my mind! So I wasn't going to forget and now for sure I never will and I am even more determined to make sure that not only do I screen my clients / class members properly but that I do all the extra questioning necessary to reduce the risk of having to deal with a medical emergency in the first place.

The incident on Monday night was resolved ever so easily but it could so easily have turned into a medical emergency, involving CPR and the need to call out the emergency services, if I had not insisted that the lady went and got her inhaler and then gave it to me for safe keeping.

To any UK based instructors who needs to renew their First Aid qualification in the near future, I recommend you get booked on to the next Nordic Walking UK First Aid Training day.

David Downer
Owner: Nordic Walking News

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