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The Importance of Why instead of the How


One colleague listening to another to depict what mental health first aid may look like
“You’ve done your first aid course and you feel invincible. You’re searching for people who have collapsed on the tube platform, looking for people with a bleed from their head.”

But for how long?

One of the most common worries of people we teach is how quickly they can forget this abundance of knowledge they’ve been given. It’s not long until this feeling of utmost confidence starts to fade and is replaced by the uncertainty they felt before.

First aid is not as complicated as people think it is. We just need to shift the focus on to the importance of WHY instead of the HOW.

Let’s take the recovery position for example. You’ve done it in brownies, you did it in scouts but that was twenty odd years ago, you can’t remember that now!

“What if I do this wrong? What if I make this worse?”

Sound familiar?

Well, what if we were to tell you that remembering WHY you’re doing the recovery position is more important than how you’re doing it.

To those of you who have done training before, you will have practiced the recovery position. You’ll know that you do it to keep an unresponsive person breathing. The position itself? Not an easy thing to remember once you’ve left your training room behind!

But if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve forgotten the recovery position, remember the logic behind why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Putting them on their side is the ultimate lifesaving goal here as it keeps the airway clear. Allows them to keep breathing.

No need to worry about which leg goes where and which arm you move first. If they’re breathing but unresponsive, just gently put them on their side to maintain that open airway. Sound easier?

How about being faced with a bleed? Where does the importance lie?

Is it making sure we’ve done a bandage so beautiful it could be unwrapped like a Christmas present? Or is it about getting the pressure on to stop that bleed?

Exactly! So use what you can to stop that bleed. Jumpers, jackets, blankets.

First aid is meant to build your confidence. Not overwhelm you with information that’s hard to retain.

Keep it simple. Think about WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.

At the end of the day you’re the first person to this casualty’s aid. If you panic or your mind goes blank: IT’S OK! Just shout for help. There’ll be someone there who may remember how simple first aid really is.


You never know, it could be one of us!

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