APPREHENSIVE would-be first-aiders are being en-couraged to have a go at learning simple skills which could save lives.

In just two hours, Dorset residents are learning what to in an emergency on a British Red Cross course. Save a Life teaches participants the recovery position, how to administer Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, mouth to mouth and what to do if someone is choking.

A total of 12 would-be lifesavers met at the charity’s Poundbury office.

Senior community first aid trainer Gavin Churchill said: “The great thing about first aid is that it’s really simple.

“And these courses give people the confidence to get in there and have a go.

“These straightforward skills can make a difference in an emergency situation.”

Mr Churchill worked as a lifeguard trainer assessor before joining the British Red Cross seven years ago.

He said: “I’ve probably trained around 10,000 people now. The courses have got busier as time’s gone on.

“It’s rewarding and you do hear success stories.

“Just one person can make a difference.”

So far this year, the Red Cross has provided 83 first aid courses and trained 940 people in the life-saving skills.

In one of the most recent high profile examples of Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, former Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match last March.

At the time, he was only 23 years old and was given first aid for more than an hour on the pitch.

Mr Churchill said that Muamba’s case has highlighted that these skills might be needed when least expected.

He added: “Muamba is probably one of the most publicised cases of where first aid has been effective.

“First-aiders were giving him CPR for 78 minutes, over an hour.

“Without that, he probably wouldn’t still be here today.

“Hopefully, the skills we’re teaching will never have to be used.

“But Muamba just shows not to expect the unexpected. He was a fit young man. We do get a lot of young people taking courses too. I work a lot with schools, Duke of Edinburgh Award groups, students on sports BTEC courses.”

Last year, a survey revealed that just three per cent of the population would be willing to learn first aid and 64 per cent fear the responsibility of having the skills.

But ninety per cent of people who have taken a British Red Cross course feel more confident in using first aid as a result.

Mr Churchill said: “Knowing how to do something is better than doing nothing. Book on a course and have a go.

“Whether it’s a weekend and you’ve got a couple of hours free or you play a sport and want to make sure you know what to do should someone be injured.

“Two hours can make a big difference to whether the casualty lives.

“At the end of today, we’ll have 12 more lifesavers.”

  •  The next Save a Life course takes place from 11am on Saturday, October 20 at Albany Business Park, Cabot Lane, Poole, and costs £15.

To book email or call 01392 353284.

 £15 skill which could help keep a casualty alive in an emergency

Echo reporter SAMANTHA HARMAN’s view as one of the Red Cross trainees at the course

What price would you put on a life? Are there numbers big enough?

If you can come up with a figure at all, I’m sure it’s a lot higher than £15.

Yet £15 is all it costs to learn the first aid skills that could help you save someones life.

In day-to-day life, you don’t analyse every situation, thinking about the disastrous turns your day could take.

And I’m not talking about bad hair or an unwise choice of shoe.

But unfortunately, and although we wish they didn’t, these situations do happen.

Emergencies, I mean – and yes, also bad hair days. When I looked around, not just at people I care about, but strangers in the street – I realised I would have no idea how to save their lives.

I’d want to. Of course I would.

But the awful feeling that my apprehension might stifle my best intentions was upsetting.

What would I do in an emergency? Panic isn’t a good enough answer.

But I could change that for just £15 and two hours of my day.

The course started with an introduction to what we would be learning and a few shocking statistics.

Did you know just three per cent of the population is willing to learn first aid?

Did you know that when someone stops breathing, you have three minutes to act before their body shuts down?

Looking round the room I could see everyone was nervous about the thought of having to put their skills in to practice.

But Gavin talked through everything clearly and explained that doing something is definitely better than doing nothing. Your job is to keep the casualty going until the paramedics arrive.

I knew vaguely that you’re supposed to turn someone on their side if they’re unconscious, but learning exactly what to do made me sure.

We were also taught to give the casualty reassurance – they can still hear you. The best thing about the recovery position is once you know how to do it, it’s so simple – yet it could save somebody’s life. Next we moved on to CPR. The British Red Cross have ‘Little Annie’ dummies to practice on.

In the chest is a clicker which tells you when you’ve pressed down far enough on the casualty’s chest.

You have to push five centimetres to make the compressions effective.

Though in an emergency I’d probably draw on what I thought was right, I wouldn’t have been actually getting it right before I learnt this technique.

This was the same with choking – although you can’t practice during the course because it’s dangerous, knowing what to do properly will make a difference. After just two hours of training, I now feel confident I could help someone.

I hope I will never have a need to call upon my new skills, but for just £15, they’re definitely worth it.