Danger Pay for First-Aid Training

People get injured in the strangest places. I personally can attest to having a finger sprain in a Saskatoon berry patch, a collapsed lung in a school, and the list goes on. Nothing compares to the absurdity of having to explain to your employer why you lost consciousness while attending a paid first-aid training course.

A few years ago, I was employed at a Daycare centre, a job that required I supervise ten to fifteen children at a time…as much as one can “supervise fifteen individuals hell-bent on self-harm. To do this legally however, I was required to obtain first-aid certification and my employer was kind enough to pay for the training in an evening course following a full 8+ hour shift (because eight hour workdays are for suckers).

Funny enough, this was not the first time I had went for first-aid training, but this would be the first time that I was required to complete it for the sake of employment and I was determined to get the program over with. Previously, when I was much younger I took the training program as part of High school health class, but had to excuse myself when I became light headed after the teacher described reducing the blood loss of a woman impaled on a steering wheel by ramming loaves of bread into her open chest cavity. This time things would be different however; my job depended on it.

So determined to complete the first-aid training this time around that eight hours into my workday, I stopped off at a Tim Hortons (back when I still enjoyed their beverages) to grab a coffee, which for me serves to both enhance focus and calm my nerves. As I approached the counter however, I was struck with a crucial question, should I purchase food? I was certainly hungry, having skipped dinner to make it to training session and with low blood sugar, risked becoming high as a kite during upcoming five hour training session. On the other hand, besides being cheap in general, I was in the midst of paying my own way through university on a part-time Child-Care Assistant’s pay grade and looking to cut financial corners wherever I could. Add to that the personality quirk that once I get a challenge in my mind, I become obsessed with completing it simply because the task is difficult (i.e. striving to complete hard things simply because they are hard) and I had made up my mind not to buy food.

Entering the training session with an empty stomach and a 1:1 blood to caffeine content ratio, the situation was not looking great. Surprisingly however, the first 4 hours of the session went quite well, the daycare’s owner and a fellow co-worker were both there and their and with the distraction of their company, I was on track to complete the training unscathed. Then the live demonstration began.

Four hours into the session, the instructor ordered us to stand up and crowd around a practice dummy to practice what we had learned. As I stood up after a prolonged period of sitting, the blood rushed like a waterfall to the soles of my feet. I wobbled slightly, but held my composure and slowly trailed the rest of the class over the test dummy, one foot in front of the other. As we stood there, the instructor asked us to picture a large pool of blood and to use our imagination in terms of the injury that may have occurred. Instantly, my mind jumped to the image of a woman impaled on a steering wheel, a French baguette  splintering out of the whole shared by the wheel. A clear voice suddenly overrode every other thought in mind. It was my voice and it spoke soothing commandments: “you are not going to pass out Trevor. The instructor just said the words pool of blood and imagination; that isn’t enough to knock you out, you’re a twenty-one year old man. You are with your colleagues and you are going to be just fine…” Then everything went black.

I awoke to the instructor performing the same resuscitation technique on me that we were to perform on the dummy. I would have appreciated the live demonstration if it weren’t for the fact that my head hurt something fierce. I later learned when I collapsed, I had the good misfortune of buffering the fall by cracking my head first on the side of a table and the side of a chair before taking one more for the team by entering a head-butting contest with the tile floor.

I immediately turn my bewildered employer standing over me and requested half-jokingly that I expected danger pay for the First-aid training session. She gave me a good-natured go-to-hell laugh and trumped it up to semi-conscious ramblings. Thankfully, I didn’t break anything beyond my ego and was able to walk; albeit awkwardly away from the incident and got a ride home from my employer, who disagreed with my intention to drive (again stemming from my logic that hard things should be done because they are hard) as adamantly as my request for danger pay.

Sometimes, we get caught up in the pursuit of challenges and bolstered by past successes that we forget the real possibility that we can fall down. In my case, this fall came both figuratively and literally. These falls and failures should not stop us from pursuing challenges, from striving to make the hardest things look easy, but should make us thankful for all the people out there that will help resuscitate us, help us up, and keep us aiming to overcome all of life challenges.

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