I will never forget the time around Christmas in 2006 when I was making a gingerbread house with my two little cousins and Grace swallowed a candy and started to choke. I remember looking at her and telling her to try to cough and drink some water, and when she couldn’t I remember the panic I felt because I had no idea how I was going to help her. The questions just started spinning in my head – should I call 911 or do I start the Heimlich maneuver? How do you give the Heimlich to a child? Do you stand behind them or do you turn them over your arm? As the seconds passed I tried to recall my first aid training from years before, but I was panicking, and Grace’s lips were starting to turn blue. After what seemed like an eternity of hitting her back with my palm, I stuck my hand in her mouth in hopes that I could dislodge the candy or induce vomiting; I had no idea what I was doing and I was scared that my four-year old cousin was going to die. Finally she threw up the candy and took a breath, and it was the best sound I had ever heard, but I still kept asking myself – had I performed first aid properly?
My story is not unique and anyone who has ever had to act in an emergency and provide lifesaving care to a family member, friend or co-worker will tell you that effective first aid training matters. It’s one thing to show up, take a course and carry a card around in your wallet, but it is another to have confidence to take charge and know what to do when someone’s life is depending on you.  As the Account Manager for Active Canadian Emergency Training Inc. (ACET) I help businesses to bring first aid training to their workplace and to train first aiders to Confidently Respond. Beyond helping companies comply with provincial Regulation 1101, I believe in the critical role first aiders have in being able to assist while waiting for paramedics to arrive. ACET was founded by Advanced Care Paramedics in 1992. They had identified a critical gap in first aid training which caused first aiders to freeze and question themselves (just like I had) rather than act. They took their Emergency Medical Services (EMS) experience to develop a regulated course that focused on what bystanders can do in the minutes before paramedics arrives. Their goal was to empower first aiders to recognize signs and symptoms and take action because those few minutes are critical! Kate McGaffin
Now 22 years later, having delivered training to over 1,000 Canadian workplaces and certifying more than 16,000 people a year, ACET is recognized as an industry leader because of the relevant and memorable content delivered in our first aid courses.
Last week I had the honour of presenting an ACET Lifesaving Award to an 18 year-old who saved his dad’s life. He had taken the ACET one day Emergency First Aid course last summer and said that he remembered everything the instructor told him when he realized his dad was choking and no longer able to breathe. He acted quickly performing the Heimlich and gave his dad 10 hard thrusts before dislodging the meat and hearing the long gasp of air.  As you can imagine this story hit close to home for me, but it also created momentum for our team at the office and out in the field to keep doing what we are doing:

  • Keep delivering training that is practical, easy to understand and relate to
  • Keep listening to our clients and delivering first aid content that meets the need for their industry
  • Keep instilling confidence in first aiders because they are making a difference

Every company that I work with is united by a common goal of making sure their employees return home safely.
Although the vast majority of you spend your lives traveling the roads alone we know you are on the look out to help others in distress. You know what critical minutes mean to an on-time delivery as much as we know what minutes mean when a life is at risk. Join with us in learning real skills that are used in real situations at home and on the road. So if you haven’t already, get certified. I would encourage you to contact our office, not just because I work for ACET, but because I believe in the program and the way the training is delivered.
Kate McGaffin, Business Development
Active Canadian Emergency Training Inc.
130 Wilson Street, Hamilton ON
800 205 3278 x1323

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