SmartStart students received Rescuer Award for saving a life

They have not been in the country for long but already Penny (Jong Ah) Moon and Golnar Khajavi are lifesavers, thanks to training they received from the Canadian Red Cross. As a result they have been nominated for an award.

Penny and Golnar are ESL students at Vancouver Community College (VCC) on Broadway and were able to rescue a friend who was choking on the very day that they had taken the Canadian Red Cross’ SmartStart: Community Access to First Aid workshop.

After the half-day course had finished, the two students went to the VCC cafeteria for lunch. There they joined Ava and Farzad, who are Golnar's Iranian friends.  Ava brought some rice that she and Farzad shared. During the meal Ava suddenly started coughing and choking, so Farzad patted her back.

Penny and Golnar had learned that when someone is choking you should not slap their back.  Ava couldn't stop coughing, so she ran to the corner where the garbage can was.  Her face became red and she threw up, but she was still choking.  Penny and Golnar followed her and Golnar gave her friend an abdominal thrust, which Penny then repeated. Finally some rice came out of her mouth and Ava could breathe again.

Now Penny and Golnar have received a Red Cross First Aid & Water Safety Services Rescuer Award, which recognizes individuals who have gone out of their way to save a life, prevented further injury, and/or provided comfort to the injured.

“We felt lucky that we had taken the training and that we had the chance to help somebody because of it,” said Penny.

In Korea Penny had worked in an international hotel and had to know how to react in emergency situations as part of her job. She explains that this experience gave her confidence during the half-day Red Cross workshop.

“When the Red Cross volunteer instructor asked who wanted to practice the procedures first I was happy to go first because I was not afraid of doing it in front of people,” she said.

Golnar’s reason for taking the course was simple: “I want to help people,” she said. “When I was able to help my friend in the restaurant it made me feel happy. I would like to learn more about first aid.”

The SmartStart workshop was arranged by VCC to give students the opportunity to supplement their English language training with activities and skills that benefit them and the community as a whole. Workshop participants learn basic safety and emergency training, including how to respond to choking, bleeding, burns & broken bones.

Penny is just pleased she was able to use the training she had learned that morning. “The more we learn about these things the more we will be able to help people in our new community,” she says. “My English is not so good, but this is a human thing and people are the same everywhere.”