Blood leaked from his ears, poured down his leg, soaked his torn clothes. He lay unconscious near his fallen bicycle. There was no telling how long he had been there, but the first ones on the scene launched into action as soon as they spotted him.
“Hello, hello, can you hear me?,” called the first, checking all around the victim for the cause of his injuries and for hidden dangers. Four youths approached the victim and set to work immediately assessing the damage and stabilizing the injuries in order of severity. These four young people were ready, and the victim was safely prepared for professional medical attention. Ambulance attendants and fire fighters stood by and watched the whole procedure. They refused to lend a finger of support to the operation. They only responded when a booming voice bellowed the command “Time!”
The exercise was over. That’s right, exercise. The blood was fake, the bike was a prop, the young people on the scene were cadets from across the region vying for supremacy at the annual Cadet First Aid Competition.
“All these kids are trained in emergency level and standard level first aid,” says Supply Officer Eric Callaghan, the deputy commander of Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron #396 (Prince George). He was also acting as facilitator of the event, being a fire fighter by regular trade. “This competition is to give some practical experience to show them what it might be like if they really came across a situation. They get the courses and the training, but this is outside of the classroom idea.”
Teams from Terrace, Smithers, Quesnel and Prince George were judged on their skills. The kids were from air, sea and army cadet corps, as well as St. John Ambulance youth. The judges, the ambulance attendants and fire fighters looking on, were all certified emergency response first aid professionals and qualified instructors.
“It’s very, ah you get nervous. You get butterflies,” says 15-year-old Amanda Sell, a sea cadet from College Heights Secondary fresh off the floor from her first ever competition. “We’ve been practicing once a week since November. I wanted to learn first aid, to be prepared. I took the course, I thought it was great, so I joined the team and I’ve learned a lot. It’s been a lot of fun.”
“It’s very fun. I want to be a paramedic,” says air cadet Danni-Lynn Laidlaw, a 15-year-old Kelly Road Secondary student. This year was her third time in cadet competition. “This year wasn’t so bad but the first two years it was tense. You didn’t know what you were going to do.”
The kids take the competition very seriously. Each team is dressed alike, usually in matching overalls emblazoned with their group’s logo. They all wear surgical gloves like they would under actual emergency circumstances. They all focus on the task and don’t acknowledge the audience while the clock runs against them. They all have the championship trophy in the back of their mind. While the seniors compete, there are also junior teams in another corner doing the same exercise their victim lies under a fallen ladder with an extension cord across his body just for the experience. Their judges are more interactive with them as they go through their motions.
“On the air side we have about 35 take the first aid training every year, and it’s about the same for the army and sea cadets in Prince George, so about 100 local kids in all,” says Eric. “There is no cost for the kids. The only cost for kids to join cadets is their name tags. That won’t run you more than $10.”
At the end of the day it was the #396 Royal Canadian Air Cadet (Prince George) team that came through with the trophy in the senior division, while #158 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet (Prince George) team won the junior division. The other teams vow to be back in the show again next year, which means more youth dedicating themselves to first aid skills.