"It was worth it": How N.S. author used first aid training to help

By: Kathryn Dunmore, Canadian Red Cross

Award-winning author Rebecca Thomas, of Nova Scotia, thought getting trained in first aid may come in useful but she couldn’t have guessed within a couple months, Rebecca would find herself using these skills in two first aid emergencies.

Rebecca is a Mi’kmaw poet and writer in Halifax. She is Halifax's former Poet Laureate (2016-2018) and has been published in multiple journals and magazines – and recently, thankfully, Rebecca took first aid training.

"I used to be a camp counsellor and you were required to have first aid and CPR training, but had let that lapse," explained Rebecca. "I was asked to be a cultural interpreter on an Adventure Canada ship, and you needed first aid training. I thought I should probably have it anyway, so I hopped on the Red Cross web site, found something that worked for the timing and signed up."

Fortunately, Rebecca took first aid training in May as she immediately put her newfound skills to work - on her own husband!
A woman with long, dark hair standing in a street looking up to the sky with arms lifted to shoulder-height
Mi'kmaw author and poet Rebecca Thomas. Photo credit: Javier Trotman.

"It's come in handy a couple of times," she says. "The first time I was in the kitchen with my husband, and we were having conversation, getting ready for dinner. He's an environmental biologist so he's out in the field, long days, gets dehydrated. He didn't look good, and he fainted so, immediately, I thought of first aid training, and I just put him into recovery and took steps. He had heat exhaustion but ended up okay.

"So, I immediately used my [first aid training] on my husband and then I used it with another person in my neighbourhood."

This experience was so alarming to Rebecca that she took to social media to mention how her first aid training skills had come in handy - not once, but now twice!

"I was outside, and I heard someone holler 'Call 911' so I ran over and there was a woman on the ground having a seizure,” explains Rebecca. “I told them I have first aid [training], would you like me to help? They said yes. I just made sure the woman was in recovery position, had something soft under her head, make sure she was breathing. I checked her body; we had someone with 911 on the line and could answer those questions. Once she came around, we had her sit on the ground until the paramedics came.

“I felt a little weird because this was a big deal - so I did all those check-ins with myself (am I feeling overwhelmed, anxious) and I called my husband as I felt the need to tell somebody and not sit on it."

Rebecca said, after the emergency, the neighbours were very appreciated and made sure she knew they valued her help.

"With first aid, you hope you don't have to use it but it's a good thing for me to have. I remembered from first aid [training] to make sure everyone is calm, there's a job to do and keep calm until paramedics come."

Familiar with medical emergencies through television shows, Rebecca noted the importance of first aid training is knowing what to do when an emergency can cause alarm or panic.

"I knew what I was supposed to do," explains Rebecca. "You watch medical dramas on t.v. and they're not accurate. So, all of these misconceptions of what you're supposed to do when someone is having a seizure, you don't do: you don't restrain them, you don't put anything in their mouth, I learned all of that from first aid training. I had all the information because of this training, I don't think we covered that way back when I first took training, so this was definitely helpful. It's worth it. I felt that I was really able to help somebody, so it really is worth it."

Interested in taking first aid training? Find a course near you at redcross.ca/firstaid.

Related stories:

See your impact in action.

Sign up to receive impact updates from the Canadian Red Cross, inspirational stories from the field and be the first to hear about emergency relief efforts.

The Canadian Red Cross takes your privacy seriously. We do not distribute or sell your email address to anyone. View our privacy policy.

Blog Archives