Monday, June 17Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

An interview with LINKS First Aid

First Aid is one of the most useful skills you can learn: teaching you how to treat small-scale injuries, such as cuts and sprains, to dealing with life threatening situations. I asked the president of the society, Alex Mullen, to answer a few questions regarding his experience as a member of LINKS.

How would you pitch your society to potential new members?

We are a First Aid Society; with strong, foundational links to St John Ambulance. It is the goal of the charity and therefore our goal to ensure that nobody suffers from a lack of trained first aiders. Everyone has been in the classic ‘caring for a drunk friend’ situation, but would you know what to do if they fell and hit their head, or became unresponsive and stopped breathing? We teach loads of useful first aid skills, and also help people to become fully fledged St John Ambulance volunteers. In one year, you can fully train as a First Aider and start going on events – this might be Friday night first aid duty at the SU, or (to name some examples from this year) The Championships at Wimbledon or Brighton PRIDE.

What made you choose LINKS in the first place?

It’s a funny story for me actually – last summer I had a hilarious accident with a kitchen knife and a lettuce and ended up removing a chunk of my finger. In the ensuing panic, I realised I had no idea whether or not I needed medical assistance. I ended up inconveniencing a bunch of people through my own failure to learn basic first aid skills. So I joined LINKS (12 months ago) and everything has flown from there. I’m now President of the society, a trained First Aider (hopefully becoming Advanced First Aider in October) and absolutely loving it.

How often does the society meet and what do you do besides first aid training?

We meet once a week, usually for an hour and a half. Those meetings usually focus on one first aid topic, giving members the chance to learn and practice. Besides training, we go out on first aid duties, putting those skills into practice in the real world. New members sometimes get the opportunity to be an Observer, watching trained members on duty. We have chill socials throughout the year, usually starting after meetings, which are a good laugh and inclusive towards everyone.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the society?

Obviously going out on duty is fun – you see some crazy things and get to treat some weird injuries whilst meeting interesting (and often drunk) people. The weekly meetings are a great laugh but also really useful and the socials aren’t pretentious or sesh-heavy. I guess the most enjoyable thing is the people you meet throughout the entire process. For me, that’s everyone in the society, all committee members past and present, but also the wider St John Community – you meet some great people when you walk in a PRIDE parade with them!

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

It would be silly if I didn’t say first aid skills. Everything we learn is super important, and it is a great feeling to know that should someone you love, or even just a stranger, suddenly fall critically ill you have the skills to remain calm and deal with the situation to the best of your ability until further help arrives. I can’t imagine the helplessness that some people must feel when they don’t have the knowledge to help someone close to them – especially in situations like resuscitation, where swift intervention can dramatically increase chances of survival.

What are you looking forward to most next year?

I’m most looking forward to welcoming our new members and showing them what our society is about! I’m also excited to get back on duty at the SU (all voluntary and always fun) and elsewhere in London. Hopefully, towards the end of the year I’ll be on duty with some of our new members who I don’t even know yet!

What new things do you intend to bring to the society next year?

Well it isn’t my intention to stir things up too much – the society worked really well last year thanks to everyone’s efforts so ideally we’d like to continue the legacy while ensuring that everything stays as fresh as possible. We’ve got a fantastic committee team coming into role and our Unit Management Team (RHUL students that run the St John Ambulance unit at the uni) are also looking amazing. All this should mean new members and new First Aiders!