Thursday, 3 October 2013

Safety First...

Hello Friends.

You know how sometimes the least appropriate person for the job somehow gets put in charge? Like Rob Ford leading a drug enforcement initiative or Paula Abdul judging singers? It's that kind of illogical thinking that recently earned me a leadership position at work and membership into the Health & Safety Committee. People who know me realize that this is a laughable appointment, like passengers from a plane crash on a deserted island putting the fattest guy in charge of cookie rationing. I'm incredibly accident-prone and safety unconscious. I once walked so forcefully into a door that I had to lie and tell everyone I was the victim of spousal abuse.

Despite my being terribly ill-suited for the venture, I'm secretly a little pleased to be in charge sometimes at work. But with great power comes great so on so forth and that's how I found myself this recently forced to sit through eight hours of mandatory First Aid training at some terribly sad building way out in the industrial area of town surrounded by oil riggers, day labourers, and thankfully, blessedly, a coworker from the sweater-folding emporium whom I will call Crandlebrams.

Crandlebrams had taken such a course dozens of times before, and she warned me we'd be bored. Were we ever! The woman who ran the First Aid training course was a droning, cranky potato sack of a gal who couldn't be bothered to clarify anything she was talking about. "Used to be, you'd treat a puncture would with a doughnut bandage, like the one you see here. Now, of course, it's done completely differently. Anyway, fire safety..." Not only was she vague and unhelpful, she had the bizarre habit of making air quotes as she spoke, but never used them in the proper way. For instance, she said, "If your business has an electronic defibrillator, be sure to keep the 'batteries charged' at all times." As if "batteries charged" was a kind of euphemism! She didn't know that air quotes is what you use to suggest alternative meaning to a phrase, like when you explain to the poolboy that you and your spouse have "an arrangement."

I could tell Crandlebrams had the same reservations about our instructor's teaching style, and it was tempting to sit in the back and giggle into our notebooks, but I was determined to glean what I could in the terrifying event that an actual medical episode requiring First Aid might actually happen on my watch. Maybe I succeeded.

Dream: Be an excellent First Aid Aide.

Goal: Achievable. Potato Sack seemed to have an anecdote for every subject she sort of touched on that involved her own experience. "Speaking allergic reactions, I was having lunch with my sister once and a bee came round..." or "Speaking of bruising, one time I fell down several flights of stairs..." and even, "Speaking of passing out, I once saw a guy succumb to alcohol poisoning over the course of one afternoon." The point of the seminar seemed alternately to be "Safety first!" and "Don't hang out with this lady!" But what I took away from it was that her experiences informed her First Aid knowledge as much as any book-learnin', so the longer I simply observe humans hurting themselves, the better equipped I am to "handle a given situation." So if I imagine some hypothetical situations where First Aid is required, then determine the best course of action, I will be prepared when they happen in real life.

Plan: Consider terrifying scenarios where First Aid is required and dispense the appropriate advice.

1) A man collapses and it's unclear whether or not he is breathing. Odds are he is probably dead. Extract his cell phone to contact next of kin. If you find his phone, try calling whoever is listed under "Wife" or "Spouse" or "Brenda." If no one answers, do NOT leave a voicemail. If I'm the wife of a dead person, the last thing I want is that stupid YOU HAVE A VOICEMAIL icon on my home screen.

2) You're frying bacon and you've overstuffed the pan and start a small grease fire. After dousing the flames with confectioner's sugar, you will be tempted to eat the whole pan of salty-sweetness. DON'T, you guys! The cholesterol and fat content therein is heinous. It's about heart safety. It's just common sense.

3) While working on a construction site, you accidentally drill a 4 inch nail into the palm of your hand. Whatever you do, for the love of God, leave the site. If your foreman finds you taking personal time on the clock because your stupid hand, that's coming out of your cheque. Even if you're just building a Habitat for Humanity house, those charity cases get pretty mouthy when they suspect you're just loafing. "Oh, are you all done on my Media Room? I assume you're finished because you're just sitting there with your stupid hand."

4) You see someone choking. Run home immediately. Think about that episode of Sex & the City where Miranda almost chokes to death alone in her apartment. Consider your life choices. Is the independence and autonomy that comes with being single worth what you miss by not having a partner? Think about maybe becoming a more appealing person, but teach yourself to lower your body onto the back of a chair just in case.

5) You're alone on an icy road on the coldest night of the year and your car breaks down. You can't call for help because your phone is dead and you realize this is where that man with the hook hand murdered all those sexy teens last spring break only he just escaped from the penitentiary and you look out your side mirror and OH GOD THERE'S A HOOK ON THE DOOR!

It's impossible to predict just how you'll really hurt yourself, but like a country drive or a satisfying orgasm, half the fun is in getting there. Statistically, all of us are going to break a bone or puncture a lung or freeze to death, so the best we can do is be prepared for all of these eventualities. The people I know who really deal with this stuff for real, doctors and nurses and EMTs, they have a breadth of knowledge and steady hand that I will never possess. But I'm glad I took the course anyway, and for all the snarking, I am grateful to that instructor who started to tell us about infant CPR but then went off on a tangent about how we eat too much processed food. I'm not sure how much of her information was wholly accurate, but I'll take her word for it "just to be safe."

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