Don’t Panic During Emergencies! We can help.

Everyone has a panic button. It is a natural protective internal system
that causes us to react in life threatening situations. First aid
situations can trigger a person’s panic button.

Did you hear about the paramedic that
came upon the scene of a rescue in
progress by a bystander who was
performing CPR on an unconscious casualty? The bystander
was doing chest compressions and “practice breathing” into the
casualty. One would question why anyone would “practice
breathe” in a real emergency scenario. Chest compressions
alone would be more advantageous as they would not interrupt
the flow of blood to the vital organs. However, if you
understand the dynamics of the average person who is thrown
into an “un-average” situation, the reasons become clearer.

Emergencies quite naturally induce the feeling of panic among those that are not highly trained
or experienced. Panic can interfere with the thinking process causing the responder to revert
to a more robotic mode which copies the movements learned in the first aid class. First Aid
Instructors that do not want to clean and sanitize manikins or do not have enough manikins
available for the whole class may tell their students not to breathe directly into them during
training. Instead, they may tell them to, “practice breathe”, whereby the student simulates a
breath to the side of the manikin face.

Unfortunately, this training style does not provide the responder with the best opportunity of
success in an emergency situation.

Another example of panic inducing responders into
robotic mode occurred at a plant in Mississauga. An
employee experienced a severe laceration on the hand
that caused a significant amount of blood spillage. The
trained responders bandaged the wound to stop the
bleeding but did not take off the paper wrapping from
the gauze bandage pads. The employees reported that
in their first aid class they practiced bandaging using
gauze pads that were still in their paper wrapping.

If you are booking first aid training for your employees, check to make sure your provider of
choice will have enough manikins so that everyone in the class can practice the skills exactly as
they would of a real situation occurs. Training kits with protective barriers and bandages
should also be provided to each student so that practice is as realistic as possible, ensuring that
even if the panic button is stimulated and robotic memory takes over, the end result will be as
successful as possible.

Dianne Rende is the Executive Director of St. John Ambulance, Peel Dufferin Branch. As
Canada’s leading authority in first aid, St. John Ambulance is dedicated to improving health and
safety at work, at home and at play. Dianne can be reached by email at [email protected]
or for more information visit

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