I Saved A Fellow Riggers Life Offshore Thanks To Simple First Aid
September 10, 2018
Robbie learned his first aid skills through his work.
When Robbie McLellan heard a colleague shouting out for the oil rig medic's number, he immediately ran to the room next door where he could hear the noise.
His colleague Terry had collapsed on the floor of the locker room. His face was turning purple and he had stopped breathing.
Robbie from Irvine had always worried about how he would react if he was ever faced with an emergency situation like this.
He had been on the scene both times his father had a cardiac arrest, the second of which sadly led to his death, and had lived with a phobia for years about witnessing another life-threatening situation.
Having been trained in first aid as a part of his job, Robbie would often hear his fellow colleagues offshore saying that training kicks in when put in a position where quick thinking action is crucial.
He always doubted this would be the case for him, but when he saw his colleague in need of help and knew he had the ability to help with first aid, his instincts took over and his learning gave him the skills and confidence to help.
"The training did kick in," the 47-year-old says. "I remembered what to do.
"Knowing what to do took over me. It was actually quite easy to carry it out.
"Before, I felt helpless after seeing that situation twice with my Dad.
"I had what I can only describe as a phobia. Seeing something like that on TV, I recoiled away from the screen, I couldn't look at it.
"I got to the point where I would have to turn over when I was trying to sleep if I could feel my own heart beating, it really affected me badly.
"The first aid course was good and informative but I never thought I would need it again."
Robbie gave his colleague chest compressions until a medic arrived with an automated external defibrillator (AED).
The coastguard helicopter then transferred Terry to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Thanks to the quick response of Robbie and the use of the AED, Terry has since made a full recovery.
"The doctor in the hospital said that if we hadn't got to him so quick and started his CPR then it might have been a different story," Robbie says.
"There was no time to think 'should I or could I' - I had the skills and I had to just get on with it and it worked.
"Having the training and putting it into practice has given me the confidence to know I could help someone again."
Research released by The British Red Cross says there is a lack in confidence amongst Scots when it comes to stepping in to help with first aid in an emergency.
Among the results, it found that only 48% of those asked would be confident enough to help someone in a first aid emergency and 70% would worry about making it worse or doing something wrong.
On World First Aid Day, on Saturday 8 September, the British Red Cross is encouraging Scots to learn five simple skills that could save a life, adding that the actions of the first person on the scene can mean the difference between life and death.
This includes knowing how to help someone who is choking, bleeding heavily, unresponsive and breathing, unresponsive and not breathing, or having a seizure.
Supporting the campaign to raise more awareness, Robbie hopes his story will encourage others to learn first aid and have the confidence to use it in an emergency situation.
"Knowing the skills gave me the confidence to help keep Terry alive in those crucial seconds before the medic arrived with the AED," Robbie says.
"It is empowering. It is empowering you to help someone else and you never know when you will need the skills."
Joe Mulligan, Head of First Aid at the British Red Cross, says it is always better to do something rather than nothing.
"We would all want someone to come to our aid if we were injured or ill, but the fact that so few people feel they have the knowledge and confidence to step in and help in the most serious first aid scenarios is concerning," Joe says.
"The actions of the first person on the scene of a life-threatening emergency are vital. In the same way that everyone knows to call 999, it's so important that people have the skills to act before the ambulance arrives.
"Taking five minutes to learn these five simple skills will give you the confidence to act calmly, and could save someone's life."