Monday, 23 September 2013

Save the Boy

Let me set the scene.  I'm sat cuddled on the sofa with Clyde cat watching the telly and doing some knitting.  Papa Owl is out and Little Owl is tucked up in bed. 
To be honest, I'm only half watching the telly but something catches my eye, a boy is climbing a tree whilst his dad is on his mobile.  Something happens, the boy, wearing a bright yellow t-shirt falls from the tree.  He is hurt, really hurt.  The Dad doesn't know what to do.  All of this is intercut with scenes of a lady doing the washing up, the narrator tells us she has first aid training with St John's Ambulance and it looks like she is going out to save the boy... she doesn't, she is somewhere else.  The advert finishes with the Dad helplessly holding the apparently lifeless body of his son.
You can see the advert for yourself here.
I hate it.
I could cry.
They had gone to town with the makeup on the little boy, dark dark eyes and dark blood coming from his mouth.
I hate it.
Why couldn't the boy be rescued? 
I can't shake the image of him lying there.
It makes me want to never let Little Owl climb trees, to wrap her in cotton wool and protect her for ever.  Papa Owl wouldn't be happy about that.
It doesn't make me want to do first aid.
I'm going to put that into context.  I first learnt First Aid as a Guide aged 11.  My Guide Leader took it very seriously, with Red Cross volunteers coming in to teach us the syllabus over several weeks and then back to test us afterwards.  Not everyone passed first time, but we got the chance to re-take.  This was repeated every two years to keep us fresh. 
I have kept up my First Aid knowledge since then, either with basic one day courses or with fuller Mountain First Aid courses where you work on the basis that you are in an isolated location, the ambulance will not be turning up within 7 minutes and the casualty is therefore your responsibility. 
So its not that I'm squeamish and want to avoid facing up to first aid.
Papa Owl and I are the kind of people to stop at road accidents (or road traffic incidents to use the  correct term) and get our hands dirty (cos you never have gloves on you when you need them) until the ambulance arrives.  We know what to do, we know what information to pass to the ambulance.
I'm passionate about First Aid being taught in schools.  I've invited St John's volunteers into schools to deliver sessions to the kids, and whenever I can, I have taught it to school children using both St John's and Red Cross resources. 
Kids are the best at first aid, especially little ones.   They don't panic.  They are used to being taught rules and follow them without question.  There are numerous stories of kids saving lives whilst adults have looked on helplessly.
But that advert was horrid.
The boy was left to die.
I hate it.
I went onto Twitter to share my feelings (its apparently what you do on there) and found myself on the St John's Ambulance profile.  I followed the link through to their website but couldn't bring myself to watch the advert again. 
They do however have a follow up to the advert.  The narrator talks the Dad through DR ABC (if you don't know what that is then read this) and you follow him through the process until the boy is loaded into the ambulance.  Apart from one breath you see him take, he might be dead.
I feel awful. 
I know the point of the advert is to shock people and it does.  It makes people talk about it - I am now and you are reading, but does it make people learn first aid? 
I don't see how.
I don't see that the boy needed to be so injured (but if you go to the website you will find that he is still breathing when the Dad checks).
There is some good information on the website - but how many will check?
Could that information not be part of the advert?
Could they not run a series of adverts teaching first aid rather that giving people nightmares?
Start slowly with burns, small cuts and nose bleeds.  Make people feel comfortable with first aid.  Empower them.  Build slowly and give them confidence.  Get them on side, and entice them to want to learn more.
Don't horrify them.
Don't make parents even more paranoid about letting their children explore.
The advert is the stuff of nightmares.  People will talk about it, its sure to get press coverage, but will it help?

I hope so but I doubt it will.

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