This post is brought to you in association with Seton.
When I was younger I decided I didn't want to be in the Brownies. I don't know why. My friends were, but I kind of rebelled against it (a sign of things to come possibly). Instead, I signed up for Red Cross at the age of 7. I used to go every week on a Wednesday night for what seemed like forever. We had a great time and learned some seriously useful stuff. We also did some things that weren't so useful, like walking round our town blindfolded with someone guiding us so that we knew what it felt like to be blind. A great idea in principle, in practice, with a friend who thought it was funny to lead you into lampposts, cars, trees and down steps without telling you, it wasn't so effective. One of my favourite weeks was when a make-up artist came in and showed us all how to make fake wounds. They looked amazingly real and I scared my teacher with it the next day.
The group taught me some fundamentally practical things, like the importance of keeping a first aid box to hand. I was always the one at school who would try to help friends when they got hurt. However, when I actually needed to help someone, I wasn't so useful. My cousin fell out of a huge tree when she was 13 and it was clear her arm was broken. I made a sling out of my jumper and tried putting it on my sister first, who yelped in pain even though there was nothing wrong with her. I realised then I would be very little help, so I took her to my friend's mum, who was great. We had to fly to France for my Aunt's wedding the next day, so the hospital gave us everything we would need to put the permanent cast on. My mum and I did the cast together, sitting in the sunshine. I have no idea if this would be allowed now but my cousin's arm healed well!
Throughout my working life, I have kept up my first aid training. I was a first aider at the BBC, in one of her majesty's prisons, and on a mental health ward. I think it is incredibly important to know the basics of first aid, especially if you have children. If you think you could do with some training, check with your local Children's Centre (if you have one). I know that our local Children's Centre often run free first aid courses. I would also recommend that you have a standard UK first aid kit in your home so that you are prepared if you need to be.