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Basic first aid tips, part one of an ongoing series: reacting.

Even before getting onto "real" first aid stuff, I want to talk about reacting. Sometimes it's really fucking obvious that someone is gonna need medical help right now, but often it isn't. And even when it is obvious, it might not be obvious who should do something about it.

Thing is, the bystander effect is well documented, and I know I've been tempted into the very British idea that making a fuss or inconveniencing someone is a Bad Thing. So actually one of the most useful things you can do is react in the first place. You can take the lead and start treating a potential medical emergency as a medical emergency, rather than someone else's problem.

(Obviously, don't insist on taking the lead if there are people better qualified than you already doing so. If you stop a competent first aider/paramedic/whatever doing their job off the back of these posts, that's a dick move.)

Future posts will obviously talk about some more useful things you can do, but even if all you do is call the paramedics or yell for the trained first aiders, that can be the single thing that saves someone's life. And while it's embarrassing if the person turns out to not need help after all, that embarrassment is far better than the alternatives.

For what it's worth, if you call 999 (or local equivalent), you're going to be speaking to people who have a lot of training on prioritisation. You won't be diverting resources from someone in cardiac arrest or having a suspected stroke (unless, obviously, it sounds like your casualty is in cardiac arrest or having a suspected stroke).

(Standard disclaimer: I'm neither a medical professional nor a first aid trainer, I'm just an interested amateur who's hoping to make a difference. Consult your physician before attempting any of the techniques mentioned in this book. Corrections and discussion are both very welcome.)

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Partly inspired by Advent Knowledge​, and partly inspired by a how-to-use-an-EpiPen post I saw on Tumblr, I'm considering writing a short series of first aid 101 posts. Would these be a thing you'd be interested in reading?

To be clear, the most relevant qualification I have is a three-day first aid course; I'm not a medical professional and I'm not a first aid trainer. I'm just a lay person who's interested in first aid and who'd like to help other people know the basics.

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Spoke to my GP about joint hypermobility stuff. She seemed happy I knew what I was talking about, checked out my knees, elbows, back, and whether I could touch the floor, and I went over the list of joints I get pain in ("that's a lot of joints!").

  • I don't have obvious external symptoms of scoliosis, even if it shows up on my CAT scans.

  • I have "some of the symptoms" of joint hypermobility and/or EDS.

  • UCLH hypermobility clinic is tertiary care; to get a referral there I'd need to get one from secondary care, and she's not going to refer me to secondary until stuff she can suggest isn't working.


  • I'm going to look at pilates and swimming, as they're both exercises that I can do that should help my strength without hurting my joints any more.

  • Although she's said she doesn't want to refer me to secondary care just yet, she's going to have a chat with her colleagues to see if they have had luck providing referrals at this relatively early stage.

  • She is going to get me a podiatry referral for orthotics, after my physio suggested that.

  • If I get to the point where I need painkillers regularly, or they're not helping the pain, or I've been exercising regularly for 6–12 months and things aren't improving, I should go back and get that referral.

Incidentally, I am very much in favour of (i) GPs who aren't intimidated by me having done research on my condition (*cough* Dr Appleton), (ii) who aren't dismissive of what I want to talk about (Dr Keating), and (iii) who explicitly list and agree actions coming out of the appointment.

5 Jul 2015 09:26 pm
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Okay, internet. If I'm going to start using this thing, I should probably follow a few more people. Tell me: who should I be following? Particularly interested in people I would have met at Open Source Bridge, but also very interested in Other Folk.


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December 2015

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