Using the Red Cross app to help a stranger

By Candace Lamb, Canadian Red Cross

Long-time paramedic, Lyle Karasiuk, was taking a routine call for a person lying on a street in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. When he arrived, he found three people - a man lying on the ground, one woman standing and talking on her phone, and a second woman crouching beside the man scrolling on her phone.

“That’s common,” thought Karasiuk about the woman standing nearby, talking on her phone. “She’s talking to someone in the medical communication centre, getting some pre-arrival instructions or sharing additional patient information.” He wasn’t so sure what the second woman was doing on her phone when the man started having a seizure.

The Red Cross first aid app“It says I’m supposed to turn him on his side,” the second woman said while turning her phone towards Karasiuk to show him an app that was giving her step-by-step instructions about how to help someone having a seizure.

“It surprised me. So, I scrolled up quickly to see what it was and, lo and behold, it’s the Red Cross First Aid app,” exclaimed Karasiuk. The woman told him she uses the app all the time. She had recently been to a first aid training, had heard about the app, and downloaded it.

“For me, as a paramedic, it’s so gratifying to see, first of all, someone stopping to help,” said Karasiuk. “The really cool thing is she had been told about a tool, it had emergency procedures, and she was literally using it step-by-step, even though her first aid class had already taught her what to do. It was so neat to see her follow along and to see the app in action!”

As the man on the ground was recovering from his second seizure, the ambulance crew arrived. After Karasiuk updated them on the situation, he wanted to learn more about the helpful bystander, but she had faded into the crowd and was gone. “I never learned her name or who she was, but I’m so glad she could be there to help this man,” said Karasiuk.

The Red Cross First Aid app is an easy-to-use tool that gives step-by-step instructions to help someone experiencing a medical emergency. The app provides instructions for everything from cuts and burns to seizures and heart attacks, and even works offline.

“To know people have easy-to-use directions right at the person’s side makes me, as a paramedic, feel better that someone is helping until the ambulance crew is able to provide further care,” said Karasiuk.
Download the Red Cross First Aid app today! Available on Apple and Android devices.

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