Suddenly you may see someone dying: take first aid course

First aid instructor Charles McConnellogue will give a series of courses in The Hive business centre this month. The six-hour course costs $900.

Charles will teach you, among other things, what to do when faced with someone who may be about to die.

He listed the most common causes of death if help doesn’t come in time:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Choking
  • Severe bleeding
  • Spinal injury

Briefly, here’s what Charles said lay people should do if they see a victim of one of the above until the paramedics get there:


Open the person’s airway so he or she can breathe. Check breathing for 10 secs. Call 999. Press rhythmically on the victim’s chest. “You’re squeezing the heart. Do it hard and fast. If you don’t break a rib you are not doing it right. The chest must be compressed at least two inches.  Do this at least 100 times a minute.”


To find out if the person has suffered a stroke, ask him or her to smile. If only half the face smiles… Or ask him to raise his hands. Or stick his tongue out.  Dial 999. Say you think it’s a stroke case so the paras will be ready when they arrive. Rest the victim comfortably. If he starts vomiting turn him on his side, so he doesn’t choke.


Tourniquets are now discouraged because laymen don’t realise they can cause gangrene. They need to be loosened every 15 minutes. Now what is recommended, Charles said, is direct pressure. With your hands.  If it is a stranger and you fear infection, use a shirt or something between your hands and the bleeding wound. If you get tired, have some one bind your hands to the wound. You may have to go to the hospital still hanging on.  “Severe arterial bleeding can kill in one to two minutes,” Charles said.


di1Encourage the victim to cough.  If that doesn’t work, hard back slaps between the shoulder blades. “They must be hard.” Keep this up for five minutes. “If the person doesn’t get relief, they can die. Don’t be scared to hurt with the blows.”  Still the problem hasn’t cleared, so do the Heimlich manoeuvre, abdominal thrusts for five minutes. If that doesn’t work, chest compressions for five minutes. Repeat the cycle, until the paras arrive.


“A couple of years ago, a Swedish motorcyclist came off his bike at the Ho Chung roundabout,” Charles said. “He was in the middle of the road, lying injured. Good Samaritans trying to do the right thing moved him to the roadside. Two hours later he died in hospital from spinal injury. If the Samaritans hadn’t moved him he might have survived.” When you suspect spinal injury immobilise the head and neck in whatever position they are in.  Hold the head in that position until the professionals get there.

di2Charles, who lives at Tseng Lan Shue, owns a first aid teaching and certificating company that you can find at  The courses at The Hive, one of the most civilised places in Sai Kung, will be on Fridays. If you want to break it into three-hour stints you can go Wednesdays as well.

Charles will also do these courses in the home ($1300 a head) and in the offices of companies and institutions. When you complete the course you will be given a certificate. How did Charles get certificated as an instructor himself?  By Sai Kung’s Darren Gilkison, who owns the SPLASH diving school and is authorised by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors).

“The courses are 90% practical,” Charles said. “We try to give people the confidence to act if they see someone in distress at home or in the street.”

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