My view ...

The private blog of Andy Prevost. My experiences, my words. On any topic ...

Best first aid training

In high contrast to a horrible experience trying to renew my first aid certificate, I have now completed the Emergency First Aid Training with AED. (AED means Automated External Defibrillator) offered by Action First Aid.

I'll even go a bit further. The course instructor, Christine, offered one of the best definitions and guided training for AED I have ever seen or participated in. 

I really enjoyed this training session. The environment was professional yet kept light with excellent interaction between the instructor and participants. Participants were paired and each two-member team had their own practice "casualty". This device has built in sensors with tactile feedback that guides the participants through the process of applying the correct pressure and timing to be effective in providing emergency first aid assistance.

There are quite a variety of first aid training programs, this one is focused on emergency first aid as it applies to driving situations involving service vehicles, buses and public locations. The company, Action First Aid, also offers first aid training targeted to sports venues, work sites, and more.

The first training program I attended was well over 30 years ago. I followed in my father's foot steps and took a general Emergency First Aid training program by St. John's Ambulance. My father was part of the team that attended sporting events with the quite visible St. John's Ambulance vehicle and rendered services to anyone injured. While most of those seeking assistance were over-heat related, he did help with a few broken bones and very occasional cardio issues. My dad took this seriously, helping others was a corner stone of his life.

I'm not quite so altruistic. My participating in these training programs is more focused to requirements. Most of the time, it was a requirement for the martial arts clubs I participated in or work related. While I never really had a desire to participate in public events like my father did, I chose to stay involved in the quality of first aid training and helped identify requirements and organizations to delivery those training needs. Nowadays, maintaining my first aid certificate is a personal choice.

I encourage everyone to take some basic first aid training. At a very minimum, everyone should know the basics of CPR, Addominal Thrust (used to be called Heimlich something or other, but due to trademark violations, that term is no longer used or promoted), how to use an AED device, and dealing with emergencies that are more prominent these days including dealing with asthama, allergies, diabetes, and seizures.

I have a now-expired certificate with Red Cross Sports First Aid Training with AED. St. John's does not offer a certificate renewal program and it is cost prohibitive to take the full program. I will not be renewing the St. John's First Aid. The Red Cross is sub-standard in my opinion and I will not be renewing that either. My experience with Action First Aid is that the training is clearly at par with the others and exceeds expectations in many areas.

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Horrible training ... lives at risk

On Saturday December 3 2016 I attended a training program at the Red Cross Canada offices in Barrie ON to renew my Emergency First Aid CPR certificate.

I had initially contacted the Canadian Red Cross office in Barrie through their website. The Red Cross recommends a company called Adrenaline Rush and lists that organization on the Red Cross website with the same address as Red Cross. Course instructor was Lorne McArthur of Adrenaline Rush.

The training was absolutely horrendous. By far the worst training program I have ever attended.

The course material was sub-standard and, in addition to being argumentative, the instructor horribly prepared to lead the class. The information in-class conflicted with the Red Cross First Aid manual and handouts. Some information was completely incorrect, one of the stroke identification techniques taught is discussed on a scam website and identified as possibly correct but inappropriate for first aid responders (since it involves a judgement call) and, in at least one case, the instructor taught the students to NOT provide assistance in helping with taking nitroglycerin pills.

I walked out of the training at the lunch break and did not return. Some of the issues with the training:

1. During the section discussing heart attacks, the instructor emphasized helping someone take Bayer aspirin. His Power Point presentation identified this as ASA. He emphasized several times it HAD to be Bayer and spelled it out "B-A-Y-E-R" and used his hand to assist with the description that this is the one with the cross on it. He then tried to illustrate that it had to be Bayer and not some other type such as Advil. To make his point, he used a comparison between Bayer aspirin and others, asking the students in the class what the difference was. When no one volunteered an answer, he said that the other brands were "coated" and would not work instantly like Bayer (again spelling it out and using his hand to do a cross and specifying it was the one with the cross on it. I attempted to correct him on this ... to point out that Bayer, with the cross, also make a coated aspirin, and trying to correct him that it wasn't the coating that was the issue ... the issue is that ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) is known to be beneficial at the onset of a heart attack. He also incorrectly recommended TWO aspirins. The correct dosage when a heart attack is suspected is ONE uncoated regular aspirin or TWO 81 Mg aspiring. There are also other brands than Bayer, including generic versions from department stores that work as well as brand names.

2. During the section discussing TIA/strokes, the instructor ignored the Red Cross information (–-symptoms-of-a-stroke) and focused on his own Power Point definition. He also included a "new" technique that he personally recommended and used with his own mother – that of asking for the individual to stick out their tongue. While it wasn't clear what the first aid responder was looking for, this technique is the subject of a Snopes "scam" discussion that while this may have practical benefits, a first aid responder would be required to make a judgement call on the appearance and slant/bend of the tongue rendering this to "questionable" status. The FAST technique is accepted and promoted not only by the Red Cross, but by the

3. During the section discussing heart attacks, the instructor stated quite clearly that the only medication that he strong recommended first aid responders should not help someone take is nitroglycerin. He made the point that nitro is used to expand blood vessels with an effective duration of 15 to 20 minutes. He said that nitro comes in different forms: patch, pill, liquid, and spray. He was emphatic that first aid responders should give the nitro to the person having the heart attack to administer themselves – specifically that the responder should NOT handle the nitro outside of the container. His reason was that the nitro would expand the blood vessels of the responder and 'blow their brains out'. This is contrary to Red Cross guidelines – especially since the early part of the training is to put on surgical/examination gloves. If the gloves are on, handling nitro pills is a non-issue. With or without gloves, handling nitro spray is a non-issue.

There are other examples where the instructor's training is contrary and inconsistent with Red Cross materials – and other accepted and promoted first aid emergency responder practices. His training style is also questionable, using a "Family Feud" question style prior to having done the instruction. His training style was to emphasize his own personality and need to be "right" all the time. For example, at one point he asked how many walls were in the room. When someone answered four, he immediately said "wrong" and then questioned again. Finally, he stated the correct answer: four walls, one ceiling, one floor and then proceeded to talk about the "four walls" repeatedly. He made the point of checking the environment, and devalued the student. I was also absolutely horrified with his recommendation that first aid responders "rip out" piercings during the AED discussion ... completely contradicts Red Cross manuals (, page 19).

Up to September 1998, Red Cross Canada was responsible for blood services in Canada. Largely due to a lack of standards, they lost that role. I believe something similar is happening with their training programs.

I have made a report of this directly to Red Cross and asked to be a part of their defined and documented problem resolution process. I have been contacted by several people from Red Cross who made appointments to meet (by phone) to discuss this, and they never followed through. There clearly is no auditing of training taking place, and the value of a certificate endorsed by Red Cross to their standards just isn't of any value any more. They ignored obvious issues when they managed the blood collection process in Canada and are clearly ignoring the obvious when it comes to training First Aid responders. In both cases, lives are at stake.

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My health website

I shut down on April 16 2014 out of shear disappointment. I had been contacted by several people asking details about my self-treatment programs. I gladly shared all the information I had – and discovered my self-treatment programs became the core of several commercial products costing anywhere between $60 and more than $200 monthly. Since my self-treatment programs costs are quite reasonable, these thieves were making and selling products at an obscene profit level.

My own disappointment gets set aside now. I am posting the same information at I am not purchasing a domain again, this will be part of my personal website. This, and all websites that I self-publish, are all at my cost. If you find the information useful, consider a Paypal donation. It will help offset the costs and would be much appreciated.

Since closing the first website, malnutrition (or malabsorption) have not been kind to my skin. I have had flare-ups of seborrheic dermatitis. This is a skin condition that causes redness, itching, scaling, and flakes. Seborrhea (short form of seborrheic dermatitis) is also called skin dandruff. I've found an inexpensive treatment for this as well – far more effective than the steroid based creams doctors prescribe and a fraction of the cost.

I have had three incidents since April 2014 that are worth passing on to you. 

The first happened in February of 2016. My wife and I were joined by another couple for a dinner in Rochester NY. There is a restaurant there called Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano (actually in Victor NY, which I believe is a suburb of Rochester). Absolutely outstanding food, superb service and reasonable prices. No wonder they are mentioned in Consumer Reports as the #1 italian restaurant in the USA. For us to get there is a 3 hour drive – and it's worth every second of the drive (there and back) for an outstanding dining experience. While there, I started to feel the initial start of pancreatic pain and a major problem. I am a Canadian in the USA. Any medical expenses, such as a hospital visit, are entirely out-of-pocket. The other option is an almost 2 hour drive back to Canada to a Canadian hospital. Ah, wait a second ... I am in a restaurant. I called over the waiter and asked him to check with the chef. If they had it, would he bring me a teaspoon of baking soda? He checked and came back with a small bowl with baking soda. I immediately mixed a small amount with water and sipped at it over a few minutes. In less than one minute, all the pain was gone and we finished an incredible meal with no more worries. Since this happened, I have been carrying baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) with me in my medical carry along bag. I will never ever be without baking soda again.

The second and third incidents all involve others. In the first case it was a friend (approximately 40 years of age) that I was having lunch with. The second case was with another friend (approximately 83 years of age) that I was enjoying a coffee with. These two incidents are unrelated, and about two months apart. In both cases, I noticed that my friends looked like they hadn't slept in days. Both looked worn out, both had bags under their eyes, both had reaction times that were quite slow. Since both stories and replies from them are nearly identical, I will relate this as one story.

"Man, you look wiped out. Have you been losing sleep lately?", was my remark to get this started. "I haven't slept in days. I haven't had much to eat, and I'm dead tired. My throat feels like it's on fire. If I lay down, it gets even worse." was the general tone of the replies. So I asked some questions ... "is it food? drink? are you taking anything for this?". "Yes, I have been taking {medicine}, but it's not doing much. All I get is a bit less of the burning for about 30 minutes ..." 

Several days of feeling this way and losing sleep? "Describe the feeling please, I'd like to know more about this", was my further probing. "Well, it's acid reflux. I think the doctor calls it GERD.". GERD stands for GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease. It's not quite acid reflux, but results from that. It is a burning sensation affecting the esophagus (throat). When it becomes chronic, the effect is essentially that the sphincter that closes to prevent stomach acids from going up the esophagus become damaged and no longer form a seal. More burning and the sphincter is permanently damaged. So, prescriptions for ever.

"Uh, I have something with me that will help. Do you want to try it?" was my comment after listening to their sad stories. "It's a natural product that you probably already have at home in the cupboard and costs just pennies a day ..."

The answers in both cases were affirmative, but I could tell they weren't expecting much. So, I reached into my medicine bag and pulled out the baking soda that I now carry with me everywhere I go. If my medicine bag is too conspicuous, I also have a small plastic bottle that I can put into my pocket and carry it along. It's always with me. 

I mixed up 1/8 level teaspoon in a tall glass of water (about 8 oz.) and stirred it up. 

I watched as they drank this. The first guy wouldn't put the glass down until it was finished – and then I thought he would wring out the glass. I could tell from the facial expression and amazement in his eyes, while he was drinking, that it was working. "The fire is out" he said when he put the glass down on the table. And, it's been out ever since. I've been in touch with both of my friends, and both report the same thing. No more lost sleep, no more burning, no more acid reflux, no more symptoms of GERD.

So, in deference to these idiots that stole my self-treatment strategies to line their pocket up with the hard earned dollars of people suffering from inflammatory pains (pancreatitis, arthritis, etc.) and the complications of high acidity in their bodies, I am reposting and adding to the original information of my self-treatment programs. 

I have nothing to sell. I don't put links in that generate advertising money. It's my way of paying back. I am on this side of the grass. I've found ways to deal with my health issues that keep my hard earned dollars out of pharmaceutical money pit. Hope you find some useful strategies that you can use too.

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