Like so many other businesses and organizations, St. John Ambulance spent months shut down when the coronavirus pandemic was first declared.
When the charitable organization opened its doors again in July, it was with a long list of new health and safety protocols.
Screening at the door, physical spacing and size limits in classes are just a few of the steps St. John Ambulance introduced for their first aid and CPR classes.
Chris Schmied, St. John Ambulance’s manager of learning, says they submitted their plan to Workplace Safety Insurance Board.
“They looked it over and really thought it was a document that made a lot of sense for the industry,” Schmied said.
Schmied says there are aspects of first aid and CPR training that can’t be properly taught with videos or remotely online.
“You still need that mannequin in front of you,” Schmied said. “You still need to be able to learn what it feels like to be able to do compressions.”
Sherry Corneil has been teaching first aid and CPR at St. John Ambulance in Kingston for 18 years.
CPR consists of two basic functions, chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
When performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, face shields or reusable pocket masks are used to reduce the risk of a transfer of fluids from one person to another.
The face shields are made of a clear plastic that has an opening covered in gauze and a diagram reminding the user to pinch the nose of person in distress closed.
Corneil says some face shields are also equipped with valves.
“So what happens is the plastic provides a protection but you can breathe through and the air goes through the gauze,” Corneil said.
The pocket masks are washable but the valve that the user blows into does need to be replaced after use, says Corneil.
“The air goes out the side of the mask so nothing comes back in your face,” Corneil says.
Schmied says these devices aren’t new and have been in use prior to the pandemic.
“Tuberculosis has been around forever and a day and it’s a similar type situation, it could be airborne,” Schmied said. “It’s something that could be dangerous if I put lips to lips.”
If those measures don’t put peoples concerns about COVID-19 at ease, Schmied says even chest compressions on their own can save lives.
“It will at least massage the heart; there’s a certain amount of oxygen in the blood that will circulate from that when the CPR shield gets there you can use it,” Schmied said.
“If you still feel uncomfortable, continue those compressions.”
Schmied also points out the vast majority of time when someone performs CPR or first aid it’s not on a stranger.”
“Over 80 per cent of the time when you’re saving a life or you’re called upon to save a life. it is someone you know,” Schmied said.
First aid certification is valid for three years and St. John Ambulance recommends CPR training annually.View link »