There's nothing like having the living daylights scared out of you before dawn and I have Ellen Arnison to thank for the fact that I was a gibbering wreck before I was properly awake this morning.
She tweeted the link to this blog post highlighting a new campaign by St John Ambulance. They reckon that as many as 150,000 lives could be saved every year if first aid was properly carried out and they want to raise awareness of what to do in various life threatening situations to buy some time until professional help arises. 150,000 is more than twice the population of Livingston so it's quite sobering to think that that number of people could have been saved but for a bit of first aid.
They have a video to highlight the campaign, which depicts a family in panic as a young child chokes. Thankfully, her life is saved. You can see how a fairly simple intervention can make the difference between life and death.
They are giving away free pocket sized first aid guides if you text SAVE to 82727 but I took the other option advertised on their website, the iPhone application. It costs £2.39 and is actually very good.
I looked up the section on choking, and the instructions of what to do are clear, in large print and easy to follow. There are similar sections for chest pain, stroke, seizures, asthma, bleeding, bones, burns, head injury, poisoning and resuscitation. Each individual links back to resuscitation at the end of all the possible steps so you don't have to go looking for it. It's also audio, so a woman with a firm but calm voice reads out the various instructions to you. It's something that can be accessed in seconds and you're always likely to have with you. I hope they develop a similar app for other smartphones, too.