Do you know what to do in an emergency?

We all know what today is! Since the passing of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 we have all become much more aware that 1 June is not just ‘another day on the calendar’. It is the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season.

On 8 June 2005 tropical storm Arlene also reminded us that storms can, and sometimes do, threaten the Cayman Islands in the early part of the season. By now most of us have completed or at least begun our hurricane preparations and practiced a disaster plan but there is another factor we should consider. As we saw with Ivan, during and immediately after a major storm communications will be down, roads will be blocked, and emergency medical services will likely be severely hampered.

Please ask yourself the following question: ‘Will I know what to do if a loved one is seriously injured or becomes ill and EMS is delayed or unavailable?’ If you are unfamiliar with emergency care procedures even the mere thought of this type of situation can be overwhelming and frightening.

Basic first-aid/CPR courses vary in the way they are outlined but they all share one common goal – to teach the layperson (general public) easy-to-remember, step-by-step procedures for assisting in a medical emergency.

All courses reflect a well researched instructional design for first-aid/CPR training and the skills you will learn follow the same priorities as those used by medical professionals. Many variables affect the outcome of a medical emergency; the patient’s fitness and health, the severity of the injury or illness, the distance from medical care and often, just plain luck. No one can control these variables.

There is however one variable you can control when you’re on the scene of a medical emergency – your response to it. Often life versus death or complete recovery versus long-term disability lies in the hands of a trained layperson providing care between the onset of the emergency and the arrival of professional medical personnel.

You can provide that care. With training in basic first-aid/CPR you can become a critical link in the ‘Chain of Survival.’

As always, this column will continue to provide basic information on individual first-aid topics, however, nothing can take the place of a complete first-aid/CPR course and this forum exists solely to encourage interest in this type of training.

So do yourself and your loved ones a favour and take a course. Better yet, get some friends or co-workers together and make a day of it. First-aid/CPR courses are not only informative; they can also be a lot of fun!

For more information contact the Cayman Islands Red Cross at or 949-6785. Most dive shops also offer excellent first-aid/CPR training.

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