First aid course - with a difference! There were 6 of us, Ce, Pete, Pat, Dave & Sarah Clifft and me. Our first aid course was up for renewal and we wanted to do one that was very practical and tailored to a potential hostile environment, oh and was WET!

I'd heard of something called REC (Rescue Emergency Care) first aid. Apparently everyone in the outdoor coaching industry was doing them nowadays and they were reputed to be very good.

After a few false starts trying to book someone to deliver the 2 day course, Leo Hoare stepped up and was duly booked. It was going to happen at Mile End Mill, Llangollen.

The course started as they normally start, in a small classroom. However we were looking and talking through typical scenarios, climbers having an accident in the mountains, a paddler injury in a remote gorge. This was more like as when professional medical help is a long way away it, the first aider has to do a little bit more.

Then we had a lot of practical in a warehouse where the rafts are stored. We were out of the classroom and it was 'hands on' - literally. We all got to know each other a lot better and even Pete managed to get a fondle, though I think he was with Pat!!!!!!!

Then on to the CPR practical - in the middle of a carpark!!!!!!! You do feel a bit self-conscious at first, but this could be a place where you might have to do this in anger. When we did the CPR procedure for drowning we were next to the river, with the dummy being fished out of it beforehand.

So the course continued on the Saturday. Lots of practical interspersed with a short session in the classroom to cover things that needed to be included in any first aid course, but would be difficult to fit in to a practical that was only 2 days long.

Day 2 was pretty much totally practical. Lots and lots of scenarios, role playing and generally rubbish acting from everyone. We were having to deal with incidents all over the carpark, on the river access ramp, and anywhere else Leo could come up with. The scenarios were very varied and were very 'real' in terms of what could potentially happen and how we would have to deal with the situation.

We were causing quite a spectacle on such a busy day at a popular paddling site. There were quite a few spectators enjoying themselves at our expense (including a few club members who'd come for a days paddling). With some incidents we had to rope in some bystanders to help, much to their amusement. The final incident involved 3 of us (Dave, Sarah and me) floating face down in the river. This one made the rescuers react quickly (thankfully). Apparently it was very focusing when you see that sort of thing and you know that time is of the essence!!!!!!

What with the adrenaline pumping throughout the day and the amount of practical we had to do, we were totally knackered by the end of it!!!

What it was though, was a brilliant course that was very appropriate for our sport. Hopefully we'll never have to use our skills in anger but I for one certainly feel that the way the course was put together meant that I'm likely to remember a lot of it more easily.

Birmingham Canoe Club