Cafeteria Worker Saves Primary School Student’s Life — Thanks to First Aid Training.
Is it time to provide first aid training to your workplace?
Odren Polk is the kind of cheerful, primary school cafeteria worker who jokes around with kids and makes them feel comfortable. Now, thanks to a recent first aid training, he’s the kind who might save their lives, too.
“Mr. O,” as he’s known at Stevens Primary School in downtown Williamsport, PA., is often the worker who kids will approach to joke around with and talk to during lunchtime. On a recent school day, he was talking to a group of kids when he noticed that first-grader Kenyon Ritter seemed unusually quiet.
“I turned around and his face was getting red and his eyes were getting big,” Polk told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. “I immediately grabbed him and I asked him, ‘are you ok’ and he shook his head no. And then he just grabbed his neck and I noticed that he was serious.”
How Proper Training Can Prepare You
Polk is employed at Stevens through Americorps, the civil society program supported by the U.S. federal government that places workers with nonprofit organizations and public agencies such as primary schools. Through Americorps, Polk received first aid training. He used that training to dislodge whatever food had become stuck in the little boy’s throat.
“When I saw he couldn’t breathe, I immediately put my hand over his chest and my palm on his back and then I pushed it out,” Polk told the Sun-Gazette.
Polk’s situation — and the life he was able to save — provide an example of why first aid training is such an important investment in any business or organization.
Don’t Be Fooled by Thinking It Can’t Happen to You
Incidents like this can happen in any work environment. It’s much better for workers to be equipped with first aid training than to be helpless bystanders until professional help arrives. First aid training is helpful in a number of ways. It gives workers the ability to provide help in a wide array of emergency situations. It also ensures that workers don’t use incorrect methods to administer medical assistance, which can lead to an already bad situation getting worse.
In many circumstances, providing first aid training isn’t an option. It’s a requirement.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lays out specific guidelines as part of standard number 1910.151: Employers need to “ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health,” and, “in the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid.” There are slightly different standards for general industry versus construction.
While there aren’t strict standards about what must be included in a first aid kit, OSHA refers to ANSI Z308.1, which does require a list of 15 minimum supplies such as gauze pads, tweezers, and latex gloves.
“I’m very thankful and very appreciative that I got to take that course because it helped when I needed it to,” said Odren Polk, when asked about his first aid training.
His boss, James L. Ellis, who serves as the principal at Stevens Primary School, agreed
“It was a scary thing for everybody that was there and Mr. O just happened to be right there to help him out,” Ellis told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. “I think first-aid CPR training (is important). That was a great example of why we should have it. It could happen at any time.”