In the moments immediately after yesterday’s bombings, there were lots of volunteers and bystanders who didn’t expect to become heroes, but did. Their immediate actions saved lives.
Every single citizen should know CPR and how to handle major blood loss events. If you don’t, please please read up and take a class. Spending a few hours learning these things now could give you the skills that end up saving the life of a loved one or a stranger.
It only takes a few hours to learn, and then you can go on with your life. But when a moment of potential tragedy catches you off-guard, you won’t become a passive, helpless observer. You’ll be a life saver. An unsuspecting hero.
Here are some excellent ways to get started:
The American Red Cross offers a class called “CPR, First Aid, and AED for Lay Responders.” It takes five hours and is an excellent way to spend a Saturday morning. Everyone should take this class, or a local equivalent.
NOLS Wilderness First Responder Course is probably the most comprehensive first aid course you can take, short of becoming an EMT. These classes usually take a solid week and are focused on backcountry first aid, when getting someone to a hospital isn’t an immediate option. This is more for people who find themselves in remote situations.
Many larger schools offer student-run ambulance associations which you could either join or take classes with.
Read articles like this one on How to Use a Tourniquet or some of the questions on the First Aid tag on Quora to build out more of an intuition for how our bodies work and things to be aware of when administering first aid.
I’ve seen lots of people posting statuses about wanting to help in some way, maybe donating blood. My advice: take a first aid class as soon as you can. God forbid you ever need to use your training, you’ll have the opportunity to be someone’s hero.