Do you have what it takes to save lives?

Features writer Ferdinand Godinez joins a hands-on class to learn how to administer primary medical care. 

We sign up to a basic first aid training at Emirates Technical and Safety Development Centre (ETSDC)

What is first aid?

We’re all aware of the term ‘first aid’ yet the majority of us probably don’t know the first thing about the basic procedures involved in administering aid during an emergency – and that includes me.

“You won’t know who will need it. It might be your friend, your children, a relative, a stranger or it might even be you,” says Eric Macabuhay, first aid instructor at Emirates Technical and Safety Development Centre (ETSDC).

“So it’s really important for every one to have even basic first aid know-how. This puts you in a better position to help.”

First aid is basically defined as medical assistance given to a person who is ill or injured.  It is administered as an initial care to someone who is in need of attention before medical professionals arrive on the scene.

The aim is to prevent an injury from worsening and increase the chances of a patient’s survival.

Curious to know more, I sign up to a two-hour basic class at ETSDC to understand how difficult or easy it is to administer first aid.

The first aid class at ETSDC touch on common medical emergencies.

As the name suggests, the course aims to teach the fundamentals of administering  first aid to anyone, particularly those with no medical expertise.

My classmates for the day are skilled workers, who will soon be deployed offshore; taking the course is part of their training and job requirement.

But everyone – whether you’re a nanny, parent, teacher or part of any professional field –is welcome and can certainly benefit as the lessons touch on common medical emergencies that can occur at home or in your place of work.

What does the session involve?

Our gregarious instructor, Eric – a nurse by profession and an ex-volunteer for the Red Crescent and disaster management team of the Philippines – patiently walks us through the topics with theoretical and hands-on examples.

Eric Macabuhay, first aid instructor at ETSDC

Each topic uses visual presentations with illustrations and explanations for us to gain an understanding of the subject theoretically.

This is followed by practical examples with Eric utilising props and demonstrating treatment procedures.

He shows us how to apply appropriate treatment for both shallow and deep wounds, and alleviate the damage caused by burns using proper first aid materials and improvised objects.

He even creates different scenarios and teaches us how to react in each situation. Being calm, he says, will allow us to think clearly and act with logic when dealing with an injured person.

For the CPR training, dummies are used to perform chest pumps and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Everyone has a chance to practise each exercise with Eric giving out instructions to ensure that each of us is applying the right pressure at the right speed on the dummies, and counting accurately as medically advised.

Doing continuous chest compressions is quite exhausting and I’m unsure whether I am doing it right, which leads me to question how nerve-wracking this would be in a real life situation.

The CPR training uses dummies for students to perform chest pumps and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

But today, Eric is there to guide us, occasionally throwing jokes around to keep everyone in a light mood.

As a bonus, he teaches us how to use an automated external defibrillator – the portable electronic device that diagnoses heart rhythm – and apply enough shock to restart the heart to beat normally.

In the end, everyone receives a certificate as proof of participation. While I’m still not sure how I’d react when confronted with a real health emergency, it helps to know that I at least have basic knowledge of what to do to help a person in need. Plus as Eric says, you never know who will need it.

From AED 250. Emirates Technical & Safety Development Centre, 6th Street, Mussafah Industrial Area. Sun-Thu 8am-5pm, class times vary. Contact: 02 555 2034,

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