life long learning


The annual refresher courses on CPR/First Aide, Fire Safety and Workplace Health and Safety are always exhausting, often boring, especially in the case of fire safety. Is this an electrical fire and does that mean an extinguisher with the yellow band? Or as it is in the IT server room should I use the carbon monoxide extinguisher and pray that I am fast enough to sprint through the door before the oxygen is sucked out of the entire room? Either way, don’t rely on me!

This was the fifth time I have undertaken these courses. Every second year is a full first aide refresher, this year only the CPR, but even that took over two and a half hours, what with pumping on the dummy chest and using epi pens. I am happy to announce that this year my dummy survived.

Maybe it was my powers of visualization that assisted me in saving its life, as I named it Minerva after my assistant and the knowledge of the extra work load I would have to fulfill in the incident of her death and lasting demise, may have spurred me on with an adrenalin rush that saw me pump hard on the damn rubber chest. I positively bounced up and down! I even got the chest to rise when I blew the two breaths into the rubber face, though the knowledge that I had just attached that rubber face to the dummy only moments before, like some forensic doctor finishing an autopsy and trying to remember where all the bits went before the family got their viewing, was a little off putting.

Even so, Minerva sighed and said that she wouldn’t rely on me to stop the white light at the end of the tunnel for her. I took some consolation in the fact that she allowed me to bleed to death after resuscitation.

The CPR course was delivered by a woman, mid fifties, with fashionably tussled greying hair and a figure that her white fitted shirt and black fitted pants showed to heart breaking perfection.  She was well practiced and smart enough to pause for the adolescent type giggling and sniggering by the back row male teachers when she delivered her most memorable lines. “CPR? Go in hard, fast and deep!” That one rippled through the room as even the slowest unpacked the double entendre and the snorts grew to guffaws. Well, at least Go in hard, fast and deep! will have created memory connections for most of the males., and maybe a few of the females even.

firemen salt and pepper shakers

A retired fireman on the other hand, delivered the fire safety. The type of guy who never made it out of his home suburb, but still managed to gain a good job and some position in his world. Well past sixty, he looked and acted as though he could be found most afternoons propping up the bar at the local pub, beer glass in hand, telling the bar staff, or any of those unaware of his routine, about the various fires he had witnessed and the stupidity of the average human.

He delivered the course last year, and the year before that. The only thing that had changed was now he had a carrier  for his monitor that was used to show a mind numbing video on the markings and uses of the various extinguishers. The carrier, or holder looked as though someone had taken a small pine book case and hacked out a space between the middle shelves for the monitor and to hold it in place. wedges of  styrofoam had been pushed on either side between monitor and book case. It was not a thing of beauty, but its function could not be ignored.

His jokes were the same as last year, and the year before that; as were his stories, even when we went outside to allow those who wanted to play fireman to shoot an extinguisher at a small fire in a drum.  I declined, as my duty of care will go as far as screaming at the students to follow me out of the door, and to be damn quick about it if they wanted to see my retreating back.

Apparently, my deficiencies aside, I was judged “competent” in the areas required and can now be trusted with your children.  If I were you, I would probably ask for a second opinion.

10 thoughts on “life long learning

  1. did they teach you to do it to the rhythm of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin alive” or the less respectful, but more honest, “Another one bites the dust.”?


  2. I’ve never been able to “save” the CPR dummy because, I was told, I’m not strong enough to pump her chest with sufficient force. Maybe after having taken karate, I can: but I’d be worried about injuring someone. Someone mentioned to me once that a number of people have suffered broken or cracked sternums on account of over-enthusiastic good Samaritans leaping forth to pummel their chests when they had just fainted. Which reminds to never faint in a room full of teachers or similarly trained professionals.


  3. You reminded me of our kids’ headteacher and his pre-performance speech which always begins “well, you’re in for a treat!” which Gill and I say just before him and just loud enough for all but him to hear. He never does understand the tittering when he delivers that line. so naughty.
    At our last refresher we learned to use a defibrillator machine .. so yaboo to you. 🙂


  4. At the end of my CPR training a few years ago the instructor said, “Just because you have training puts you under no obligation to actually use it.” Made me wonder why they sent me to the training in the first place. And right after they changed the “rules” anyway.

    I’m still convinced that the only reason I was sent was because I commented that if my immediate supervisor clutched his chest and fell to the ground … I’d wait five minutes and nudge him with my toe until he quit moving and THEN call 911, since I had no training in CPR (they’d trained others who were no longer working there).


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