A group of 20 from Titchfield Abbey WI took part in a first aid class run by first aid trainer Maggie Wheeler.
We learnt primarily how to help somebody to survive a heart attack or incident where they may have stopped breathing or are in danger of doing so, until professional help arrives, such as paramedics.
We were shown how to use defibrillator machines, which are now frequently found in shopping areas and other places where people gather, how to access those placed on a wall for public use and the procedure for attaching them to the patient.
Maggie also showed us how to do CPR and place a person in the survival position, and gave tips on how to call for other help.
The idea is not for WI members to save lives but to give us the knowledge to maintain life and keep the patient comfortable.
Many other subjects were covered, such as choking in the young and adults, recognising when help is required, the value of mobile phones with emergency numbers in the contact list, general first aid such as cuts and grazes, burns and scalds or anybody simply feeling unwell in a crowded place.
Everybody agreed this was a most valuable exercise with the opportunity to try defibrillators and CPR ourselves.
The machines themselves are mostly made available by fundraising, grant or allocation of funds and all agreed that, because so many more lives are now saved, the ability to use the equipment and get help for somebody who has collapsed, is all the more important.
All public places including libraries, community halls, sports complexes as well as shopping centres and travel hubs, should have them available.
Even schools, as young people are not exempt from collapse in rare cases, and the presence of a defibrillator machine, with the knowledge to use it, could help save young people – and families from the pain of the loss of a loved one.
We hoped we would not be placed in the position of needing to administer first aid but the knowledge of how to do so is invaluable.
In fact, just minutes after leaving the venue and walking a few yards down the road to a butcher’s shop, one of the members, Norma Luxton, found there somebody who had just had an accident with his knife and she was able to confidently help and advise, before he went to hospital.
Titchfield Abbey WI meets on the second Tuesday of each month at Titchfield Community Centre, Mill Lane, at 9.30am.