Promoting first aid is easy for emergency room physician Dr. Andrew MacPherson.
The Oak Bay resident feels decent training makes his job a “heck of a lot easier” when all is said and done.
Sept. 12 was World First Aid day, and MacPherson, Medical Director for the Canadian Red Cross National Medical Advisory Committee, celebrated the annual campaign to promote the importance of first aid training in preventing injuries and saving lives.
“It makes my job in the emergency room a heck of a lot easier,” he said. “What Red Cross does, and what we teach, is the most current and up-to-date standard in the world. Any Red Cross training you do will be the best, bar none.”
That includes everything from first aid training to babysitting to anti-bullying courses.
Under his leadership, the Canadian Red Cross pioneered the inclusion of automated external defibrillation training in its first aid courses. Research later demonstrated that the use of an AED along with CPR administered immediately after cardiac arrest can double a person’s chance of survival.
“We were one of the leaders including that in one of our training packages. It’s quite impressive. That was about eight years ago, the big push, since then it’s been ongoing improvements in cardiac arrest training and CPR training,” MacPherson said.
MacPherson is also the lead author of the Canadian and International First Aid guidelines, a document used by all national societies for the creation of their own first aid programs. His dozen years of volunteer work and dedication led to an Order of the Red Cross earlier this year.
“It’s the highest award the international movement has, so the criteria surrounding the awarding of the order is very high and very tight. There aren’t many given out,” said Sara John Fowler, national board chair.
“We view the award internationally in comparison to the Order of Canada, it’s that level of an award.
“For him to be recognized by his peers, and by his country – because it’s a national organization – it not only validates the work that he’s contributed but the calibre of the work. It speaks to the quality of his work and the quality of the people we engage in this high level volunteer positions.”
He’s had a long-serving record and is committed to the values she said, which got him through the significant vetting process of the award.
“The amount of hours he’s committed, which is all voluntary, above and beyond his practice and as an emergency room physician is inspiring,” Fowler said. “We need to pay attention to our people and the good work that they do. … It’s a commitment above and beyond emergency room medicine. It’s above and beyond first aid. It’s embracing the whole mission, if you like, of the movement.”
The Red Cross mandate is to do no harm and MacPherson, she said, is one of those “ordinary people doing extraordinary things” that make a difference to the organization.
“It’s our honour to work with Andrew. We’re very grateful for the contributions that he’s made to the Society but also to first aid internationally. It’s a tremendous accomplishment and we’re very proud that he’s decided to work with us in this delivery,” Fowler said.
“We’re so blessed in Canada and in Victoria to have people and an individual like Andrew to do what he can at a very high level. It does ultimately help those situations.”