Sophie Gleeson First Aid Training Interview

Sophie Gleeson First Aid Training Interview

St John Ambulance Victoria has Reinvented Training

St John Ambulance Victoria has launched a new series of training featuring immersive technologies to deliver a higher quality First Aid training experience in a reduced amount of time.

Following on from the successful launch of the Virtual Reality CPR training in 2019, SJx immersive group training by St John has again disrupted the first aid training market by creating an interactive learning experience that allows for 50% faster delivery.

The SJx group training runs through a series of real-life scenarios presented through immersive screens, followed by assessment questions served on participants' phones instead of paper. The two-day and one-day course options have now been reduced to an intensive full-day or half-day course, allowing more employees to take time out of their work schedule to attend.

When CPR is performed immediately after an out of-hospital cardiac arrest, it can triple a person's chance of survival. In the 2018-2019 year in Victoria, there were over 6,519 cardiac arrests – the most cases ever. Of those, less than 40% of victims survived.

Only 35% of those patients received CPR from a bystander.* St John believes this figure should be at least 90% and is striving for more people to learn CPR to make this possible.

Sophie Gleeson from Melbourne, knows first-hand what it is like to be in a situation where CPR is needed. During her third day in a new role, a code blue (critical incident) was called as a customer went into cardiac arrest. With more than 30 customers and other staff nearby, Sophie was the only person who was trained to perform CPR. She spent nearly 30 minutes administering CPR until emergency services arrived and took over. The customer, in his 40s, was unstable for a few days after but made a steady recovery and was able to go home after two weeks in hospital.

''The paramedics told me if I had not performed CPR he would not have survived. I knew I had done everything I could to help save the gentleman, but during those first few days not knowing if he would survive or not, it was very rough," said Gleeson.

"I'm so glad I was able to give my everything and make sure he had a second chance at life.

''I honestly believe that if I didn't have First Aid training then I wouldn't have felt comfortable and confident to react in the situation. I completed annual training for five years and never before needed to use any of it and I truly think understanding the basics of First Aid are so important as you never know when you are going to have to use it. My employer was a huge support after the incident and values the importance of being prepared," she said.

After the incident, Sophie's employer sent an additional 10 team members from all departments to attend the St John First Aid and CPR course, equipping them with the skills and confidence to react in a medical emergency.

St John Ambulance Victoria trainer, Katie Van Woerkom says: "The start of the new year is a great time to take stock of your employee training calendar and review who may be due to complete a First Aid or CPR course.

"By disrupting the First Aid training market with immersive learning, St John Ambulance Victoria can better equip the community with the skills and real-world scenarios needed to improve out-of-hospital cardiac arrest response times and ultimately, survival rates," said Van Woerkom.

Safe Work Australia provides guidelines on how many first aiders are required in the workplace, this is based on the size, location and nature of risks.

In 2019, St John Ambulance Victoria launched the first Australian Virtual Reality CPR training course. The course accredits the Provide Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation certificate to Victorians using real-life 360-degree video scenarios and an integrated questionnaire. Virtual Reality has been shown to increase retention rates by up to 1400%.

Interview with Sophie Gleeson

When did you do your St John Ambulance Victoria training? I was training to be a Manager at McDonald's and as part of the Shift Management Qualification we had to attend First Aid as one of our credentials. Then yearly, to be a qualified manager you had to have a valid First Aid Certificate otherwise you were not able to run shift.

Question: What did you find most interesting during the course?

Sophie Gleeson: Some of the things I found most interesting including how simple it is to assist someone who is in need of First Aid. The course providers gave great real-life examples of how you can assist someone in an event of an emergency. The practical side of it was really eye opening too. They provide you with enough knowledge to walk away from the course and feel confident when put in a first aid emergency you are able to provide help.

Question: Can you tell us what's involved in a first aid training course?

Sophie Gleeson: The two key components of the course involve theoretical and practical First Aid and CPR. Combining these two components you are then assessed to show your competence. The course advisers work with you to help you be successful in this course.

Question: Can you tell us about how you then used this training?

Sophie Gleeson: A gentleman in his late 40's, collapsed at work. I was in the Managers office at the time and when I went downstairs, I found him lying on the floor unconscious and his skin was the colour of sky blue. As he was non-responsive and I was not able to find a heartbeat, I asked a bystander to call Triple 000 and I started CPR. Providing CRP allowed oxygen to reach his heart while we waited for first responder's. We didn't have a defibrillator, so this was our next best possible option. If this was not done, then the gentleman would not have survived.

Question: What was that experience like?

Sophie Gleeson: At first it was all very overwhelming. I was new to my job and didn't know anyone else who was involved. Unfortunately, no one else present was qualified in First Aid or CPR, so people wanted to help but didn't know how they could help. There was a lot of emotion involved, but at the end of the day I did everything I could to provide assistance to the gentleman. It was a good feeling knowing that I was able to help and save this man's life. There would have been nothing worse than to stand by and not know what to do or how I could help and let this man die.

Question: What did you learn, from this experience?

Sophie Gleeson: That knowing First Aid and CRP is such a valuable resource. You have no idea where you might need to use it. After the incident, the company I worked for ending up sending 10 people to go and complete their first aid course. As I was the only one who knew First Aid and CPR, had I not been there, this man would not have survived.

Question: What advice do you have for those who haven't recently had first aid training?

Sophie Gleeson: My recommendation is to go back and refresh the course. Standards change and new ways of providing First Aid and or CPR are always being refined to making things easier.

Question: Why do you think people don't do first aid training?

Sophie Gleeson: Honestly, I think no one ever thinks they will be put in this type of situation or that they will ever be required to provide CPR. I didn't ever think that I would use First Aid but I'm so grateful for attending First Aid when I did so I was able to help. The worst thing you can do is not provide assistance, so knowing how to provide assistance can really go along way and save someone's life.

Question: Do you think St John Ambulance Victoria's new immersive training will drive more people to do first aid courses?

Sophie Gleeson: Absolutely! I think the course really targets today's generation. It's interactive and a different way of learning. I think giving the people the opportunity to learn this way gives you a more real life experience of how you can help.

Interview by Brooke Hunter