Where my journey began – Jacqui

As a parent you never really think about needing first aid skills too seriously, a band aid here and there, maybe an A&E trip and if its bad you ring an ambulance and they come.

At least that’s what I used to think, until 2007 and we moved to Newman.

We flew out of Wagga Wagga on the 22 November 2007 at 7.00 in the morning, aside from being a new path for us to take and the excitement of the day as we sat at Wagga Wagga airport waiting for our flight, I remember it being bitterly cold and raining. Our three kids had never flown before and we were on a Fokker50 to Sydney for the first leg. Three planes and a full day of travelling at 6.20pm that night we landed in Newman WA. The heat was stifling and suffocating as we stepped off the plane and almost melted on the tarmac as we made our way to the gate where Jason’s new employer was waiting for us – it was 40 degrees Celsius he informed us cheerily!

Newman a remote mining town in Western Australia’s Pilbara region taught us so many things, most importantly the true meaning of community and giving back to receive.

In Newman all emergency service responders were volunteers – the Fireys, the SES and the Ambo’s. The WA Police Force were the only paid responders in town.

Jason had always been involved with Auxiliary and volunteer fire services from when he was 17 in Proserpine QLD, even in NSW and it didnt take long for him to join both the Mines Rescue Team and the Fire and Emergency Services Association in town.

By 2009 we had both also joined the volunteer ST John’s Ambulance crew in town between the two of us we had worked up over 600 hours of volunteer service in one year!

It was here in Newman that we started to train first aid with a colleagues training company and it was here that I met Sally and realised just how important it is to make First Aid a life skill that is accessible for everyone.

At courses I was in the habit of having participants give a quick one minute why I am here and what I want to take away from today.

As we made our way around the room I would see Sally shift every now and then in her seat, and then finally we made it to Sally. As she stood up I made eye contact and I could see that she was fighting back tears and with a shakey smile she started to speak I still remember her very confronting admission and it was this; “My name is Sally and I am here because I am a mother to two small boys aged 3 and 1, and I never want to feel as useless and helpless as I did three weeks ago. I am the mum of the little boy who had drowned in his clam shell pool and was revived by my husband and neighbour whilst we waited for the Ambulance and I never want to feel as useless as I did at that time.” I looked at her and smiled empathetically with tears in my eyes, whilst I didn’t attend that call out I know the team members that did, and I know how traumatic it was for everyone involved. We wont go further into details but Sally and her family had a good outcome that day because her neighbour was home and knew CPR and they heard her screaming for her husband and jumped the fence to help.

First Aid and CPR saves lives – and we have both trained people in this skill set ever since.

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