Knowledge is power

Knowledge is power

It can be as simple as putting a plaster on a paper cut, or something more complicated like giving care to multiple casualties at the scene of an accident. One thing rings true: practical knowledge of first aid can save lives.

Ruth Kolevsohn, head of training at St John South Africa, observes that first aid coaching enables trainees to receive first-hand knowledge that will make a difference in an emergency, “whether it’s a Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) or Department of Labour accredited first aid course you need – as required by your employer or studies – or you want to be prepared for emergencies at home or play”.

St John offers First Aid Level 1, 2 and 3, as well as community healthcare certificate courses, skills programmes and full qualifications, including HWSETA accredited Health Care (NQF Level 1), Community Health Work (NQF Levels 2 and 4), Occupational Health, Safety and Environment qualifications.

In addition, it offers a Health Promotion Officer (NQF Level 3) qualification and short courses such as CPR, Basic Life Support
for Healthcare Providers, as well as Advanced Cardiac Life Support, which are accredited by the American Heart
Association and Resuscitation Council of Southern Africa.

Kolevsohn adds that St John has been active in South Africa since 1883 and is recognised, as well as accredited, by the United Nations. “We’re mentioned in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, and have developed the gold standard in first aid through our global clinicians’ group, which regularly reviews scientific information and developments to incorporate new protocols into our practice and teaching.”

First aid training and development is also a major focus for governments across the world, including South Africa, according to Kolevsohn. Locally, government’s current focus on decentralised healthcare means there is more interest from NGOs and their donors to fund the training of first aiders and community healthcare workers across the country.

“The endorsement of e-learning, by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations and the SETAs, also means that learners can access first aid training anywhere, any time,” says Kolevsohn. “Rather than being classroom-bound, learners can work through the foundational theory at their own pace and then master the practical skills in a classroom with an instructor. This makes first aid education more affordable and accessible to more learners.”

She adds that a report, commissioned by the World Health Organization, found that e-learning for healthcare professionals is just as, or even more, effective than traditional learning environments. “This is because of the features that e-learning systems contain. Our First Aid Level 1 e-learning comprises videos, audio clips, text on slides, animations and activities which appeal to visual learners, as well as those who learn best by reading or listening. This is just as effective as the benefits of student and instructor interactions in a classroom setting.”

Kolevsohn notes that St John plans to bring First Aid Level 2 and 3 to its e-learning platform along with other OHS training programmes, such as firefighting.

But first aid training isn’t only beneficial – it could open up a career path for some as well. “The St John Brigade schools programme has produced a number of doctors and paramedics among its cadets, who go through first aid training, team building and leadership programmes. This demonstrates that first aid training can stimulate interest among youths to pursue careers in healthcare. More schools, with volunteer programmes for their learners, should consider introducing the cadet programme.”

Individuals, institutions and companies should err on the side of caution when choosing a training provider, however. “There are lots of small training companies out there who provide first aid and OHS training at low prices. Learners should make sure that their training provider is reputable and provides training at a recognised standard,” Kolevsohn warns. “We ensure that our training is regularly aligned with the latest protocols, setting a global standard in first aid practice and teaching.”

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