Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Branching out on my own

Well, it has been over a month now and despite a sterling effort on trying to get another job nothing concrete has really happened. I did manage to get down to the last five for a senior manager job in the NHS ambulance service so at least my resume and experience is getting me noticed. As I blogged previously, I am signed up with a number of recruitment companys but so far I have not been impressed with their services. I guess that jobs are not going to fall into my lap but I need the ocassional filip to keep me positive and confident that my skills and experience are still valued within the world of work.

One should always have a back up plan; so I am embarking on a journey to set up my own business. Given my extensive experience in ambulance, clinical and first aid the best bet is to start up my own first aid/emergency aid training company. Thus far I have gained certification in F irst Aid at Work and later this week I'll be attending an automated external defibrillation (AED) course to gain certification. In order to teach first aid etc. I need to gain the PTLLS qualification that will allow me to teach first aid to adults. Of course, all these courses take financial investment which when one is on a tight budget is not easy. However, to achieve my goal I need to 'bite the bullet' if I am to be successful. Being registered with an organisation that is approved by the Health & Safety Executive is also important so that not only am I seen as credible, profesional and competent but that any training courses provideed are both within current legislation and guidance.

In someways change can be frightening but at the same time exciting; if I don't achieve a full-time job then this change to setting up my own business could lead to an exciting and satisfying future.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Playing around

Ah, the great game of golf! In equal terms it is enlightening and frustrating, especially for a 'hacker' like me. I took up golf last September and have been trying to learn the game through lessons with my local club pro and getting out on the course as often as possible. The weather has not been kind however, with torrential rain falling on a regular basis washing out most of last season and the beginning of this.

One benefit, no matter how badly one actually plays, is the exercise as the average round takes three and a half to four hours to complete and involves a good walk of around three to four miles, depending on the lie of the ball and how many shots one takes at each hole. Mark Twain famously described golf as '...a good walk spoiled' and perhaps non-golfers would agree with his statement however the game can tale the player from the height of ecstasy when playing a great shot to the depths of despair when the shot goes horribly wrong.

Golf is, to some extent, an enigma; a healthy and satisfying game but with ancient and sometimes confusing rules that are quite easy to fall foul of and lead to the disqualification of the player from the club competition. Like any sport, golf has to have rules, and a myriad of them there are; standard rules and local rules all have to be taken into account especially during club competitions where the difference between victory and defeat is a fine line indeed. Behaviour in the clubhouse is also taken seriously although to new members this is a mysterious and unknown area usually highlighted when said member falls foul of said rules quite innocently, cue older and long-standing members to snort derisively or even to take said member to task over said
rule breach. More enlightened clubs will hold an induction session to help new members understand some of the unwritten rules, particularly related to behaviour in the clubhouse along with an introduction to the rules one needs to follow out on the course, however this is no means standard across all golf clubs.

Despite the frustrations of the golf, and the sometimes anal rules one has to follow off the course, it is a very enjoyable and testing game which when it goes well gives the player a boost of confidence and well-being - the best type surely of 'playing a round'.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Recruitment agencies - are they up to the job?

As part of my search for the next job opportunity, I have signed up with several recruitment agencies. In theory it seems like a great way to get a job; you sign up, send in a curriculum vitae (CV) and after a while you get a recruiter on the phone telling you how they will get you that next opportunity. However, a few things have become clear to me over the past few weeks. Firstly, I discovered there are over 6000 recruitment agencies in the UK and it seems, like in every walk of life, that they vary enormously in both the quality they provide and the sectors they operate in. Having never had to approach this type of organisation before I found it very difficult to identify the ones which are well established and which can actually come up with the goods. Certainly referrals from trusted friends and colleagues seem to harvest the best results in my experience. Given the global and in-country recession, that is slowly improving, there appears to be a lot more candidates than jobs out there. Of course, it does depend on what each individual candidate is looking for and in my case having worked in a relatively small industry in a niche role such jobs are few and far between, although my skill set and experience are eminently transferrable. One issue I have noticed is that some agencies tend to use younger staff who perhaps don't have either the life or work experience that can assist the older candidate in their search for work. This does not mean to say they are not competent at the job but perhaps reflects the increasing growth in recruitment agencies throughout the UK and, ironically, the need for more recruitment staff.

So, my search for employment goes on and one can only hope that one of the recruitment agencies I have approached will come up trumps with a job that matches my personal and work-based skills and experience.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Automated External Defibrillators and the Urban myths

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a life-threatening condition that must be treated within minutes if the victim is to survive. The only therapy which can treat the life-threatening arrhythmia that occur during SCA is defibrillation; the earlier the better. Various studies have determined that for every minute defibrillation is delayed survival falls rapidly. In one study it was determined that this fall in survival was around 7 to 10% while the British Heart Foundation (BHF) have concluded that the fall in survival percentage is 14%.

Defibrillation for the SCA victim needs to be part of the 'pattern of care'; a well-establish process - the Chain of Survival - assists the rescuer in giving the victim the best chance of survival; call for help, early CPR, early defibrillation and advanced life support.

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDS) are designed specifically to enable non-medical rescuers to treat SCA victims as they are safe, easy to use and effective.

There are, however,  a number of myths and mis-information around the whole issue of SCA and the use of an AED.

Lay persons are often confused between a heart attack and a sudden cardiac arrest. These are two separate medical conditions and although the first can lead to the second, an AED is designed to treat the unresponsive, not breathing victim the indications for SCA and the use of an AED.

Clinically, defibrillation does not 'jump' start the heart. Delivery of a biphasic electrical current depolarises the heart cells allowing the organ's natural 'pacemaker cells' to re-start and the heart to return to normal electrical activity or sinus rhythm. During SCA the heart is exhibiting ventricular fibrillation (VF) ; a chaotic discharge of electrical current that prevents oxygenated blood from circulating or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT) which while more regular is still too fast to again allow the effective circulation of blood thus denying the brain of oxygen.

People often ask about the 'danger' of rescuers or bystanders receiving a shock if they are touching the victim of SCA during defibrillation. While we have adopted the historical warning 'stand clear' from the use of manual defibrillators, studies show that current leakage from a defibrillation device using adhesive pads is actually minimal. The majority of current delivered being discharged into the chest and heart. The actual amount of current leakage recorded in one study measured this as well below 2,500 microamps, the international standard relating to this threshold. To put this into layman's terms this equates to the current from a standard nine volt battery. The European Resuscitation Council (ERC) Guidelines (2010) describes 29 instances of death or harm from a manual defibrillator, however this is a different type of device, produced for professional rescuers, utilising metal paddles (although some are available with adhesive defibrillation pads.

All in all, AEDs are safe, effective and easy to use so why would you not want to place these in your workplace or public area?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

What does the future hold?

I'm sat here at four am in the morning wondering what the future will bring. Having been laid off from my job after twelve years recently, and having just turned sixty, the future appears daunting. Part of me feels that I'm being selfish worrying about the future when so many people are worse off than me. Is it the financial security that work brings that makes life satisfactory and fulfilling knowing that you can cover your mortgage and other essential bills? Or is it the feeling of knowing that you are wanted for your skills and expertise you bring to a specific role? Having turned sixty the opportunities to return to work seem less as while it is illegal for employers to discriminate one reads many stories of the older worker being overlooked for younger people. It is rather ridiculous really, the fact that older people have a wealth of experience to offer yet are viewed as 'over the hill'  If an individual is in employment when they reach sixty they are not immediately binned as no longer being useful to the employer.

Beside me on my desk is a financial spreadsheet that I worked on over the weekend to see what outgoings my wife and I have and a comparison of income. It makes depressing reading. When times are good, one is earning a very decent salary, and living to that level it is a long way to fall to a very much reduced income. Of course, without a further source of income you have to make cuts and extraneous luxuries must go; cable television, gym memberships and the like. The most worrying aspect is keeping a roof over one's head particularly when a mortgage still has nearly four years to run.

Like many thousands of people in the same situation the 'working day' consists of contacting recruitment agencies, trawling the internet and media for a job that one's skills and experience relate. Submitting applications can raise a positive feeling until the rejections start to arrive or, more likely, nothing further is heard about the fate of the CV or application form.

Being unemployed is an emotional roller-coaster. Keeping on the tracks is a physical and emotional challenge, the downhill portion is often uncontrollable while the uphill section is a slow struggle and at times seems to dominate the ride.

Onwards and upwards, the kettle beckons to provide the Englishman's panacea; the cup of hot tea.