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When seconds count: first aid trainer shares his life-saving knowledge at OC
Okanagan College Media Release

Andy Jack Dec 2018Andy Jack can give plenty of reasons why keeping his skills up-to-date is critical in his profession, but it only took one personal incident for the Vernon-based first aid expert to confirm his commitment to refresher training.

Jack first dipped a toe in the water of the first aid world when he took his Level C training years ago from the Red Cross as part of lifeguard training when he was a teen. He has seen first-hand the life-saving importance of updating his certification throughout his career.

“Having first aid is one of the most invaluable tickets you can have on the job, because you never know what is going to happen,” he says. “A lot of employers won’t even let you on the job site without it now.”

Jack can cite many ways in which he’s seen first aid training evolve over the years, from education around automatic electronic defibrillators, anaphylaxis response and, more recently, naloxone kits.

“I have used my naloxone kit a number of times. I carry face masks for CPR in my kit now, and I carry gloves with me all the time. It’s important to be prepared, and feel confident that you’re up-to-date, as you’ll never know when your skills will be needed.”

Jack has experience working in remote locations, including oilfields in Alberta and provincial parks in the Okanagan. Health and safety specialists have always been a phone call away, but Jack found having first-aid skills and knowledge can drastically improve the outcome.

“That initial response – the first 15 minutes – are so important when you are dealing with an emergency,” he says.

Never has a lesson hit home for Jack more seriously than one morning two years ago when he found his spouse unresponsive in the bathroom as he was getting ready for work.

“I didn’t want to move her because I thought she might have slipped and caused a head or neck injury. As I looked closer, I noticed her mouth was drooping on her one side,” he recalls. “I could see her eyes moving, she was trying to hear me, but her speech was slurred. That’s when I remembered FAST – face, arms, speech and time.”

He called 911 and she was sent to hospital for immediate surgery which, according the Jack, likely saved her life. “She pulled through. She has been back to work for several months and is improving every day,” he says.

Now a volunteer with Vernon Search and Rescue, Jack’s training continues to help those around him: stranded snowmobilers, overturned boats on Okanagan Lake, lost hikers and hunters in distress.

“I just love being there for people and helping them as much as I can,” he says. “On and off the job site, first aid is so invaluable as it allows me to assist people in need.”

First aid training is one of the course and certificate options available through Continuing Studies at Okanagan College. For details of locations, dates and times, check out the winter course brochure available at