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Training the trainers in first aid for the body and mind

By Jocelyn T Edwards / Photos courtesy Diane Story

Sometimes first aid means checking an unresponsive patient’s airway, breathing and circulation. Sometimes it means recognizing the symptoms that could lead to self harm, or supporting someone through a panic attack.
“We always say if someone is hurt, we can help them,” says Diane Story, who has been a first aid educator at the Red Cross for almost 40 years, adding that this doesn’t always mean physically. “Sometimes they are hurt in a different way.”
Diane has been training volunteers to respond to all kinds of emergencies since 1978Diane has been training volunteers to respond to all kinds of emergencies since 1978, when she was part of the Red Cross team that helped bring first aid education to Alberta. Now in her fourth decade as a volunteer, Diane is the Red Cross Education Specialist and sits on the Red Cross’s First Aid Technical Advisory Committee and contributed to developing the mental health first aid component of its curriculum.
Diane’s professional experience made her especially qualified to assist with that part of the program. She works as a trauma life coach and has training from the National Centre for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
A highly dedicated volunteer who has been known to spend up to 30 hours per week on projects, in 2015, Diane went to Paris with 10 other International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Master First Aid Educators from around the globe. There, they put together a program to train instructors to train others in teaching first aid.
In 2016, she travelled to Bulgaria to train physicians using the curriculum. Despite having to communicate with the doctors through an interpreter, Story said she connected with them easily and soon felt right at home. “We shared the same heart,” she says.  “I just think volunteerism gives us one language. Anybody who volunteers speaks the same language.”
Currently working on her doctoral degree at an American university, it seems this long-time volunteer is ever focused on finding more ways to help in a crisis. For her thesis, she is considering investigating how to support people educationally so that they are more willing to act in an emergency.
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