Blog| Lifesaving skills learnt at Scouts
Two weeks ago, Scout Leader Martin Magowan saved a man's life using the first aid skills he learnt at Scouts. We spoke to the hero about the incident and what he thinks are the greatest benefits for young people in Scouting.
We believe that the skills learnt at Scouts can be lifesaving. Two weeks ago, this became more evident than ever when Scout Leader Martin Magowan saved a man’s life at Harrow Town Centre using the first aid skills he learnt at Scouts. The man was a victim of stabbing that nearly ended his life. We talked to Martin about the incident, about the skills that he used and how Scouts are like family.
Could you please take us through the episode at Harrow Town Centre?
It was quite late on the Saturday night. I had been out with friends and I went to the Harrow bus stop on my own. There was absolutely no-one on the street.
I could see six guys walking and I could tell they had been involved in something up the road. So I kept my head down and waited until they walked past because I didn’t want to have any trouble from them. Then I walked up the road to see what had happened.
I found four injured people. The first three had slash wounds but they didn’t look too deep. I told them to sit together and look after each other and I went to the guy lying on the floor. I saw he’d been stabbed quite deeply a couple of times in the abdomen.
I took my shirt off and pressed down on the wounds on his abdomen. There was a girl there as well and I asked her to go check on the other three boys. When she came back I asked her to make a note of the questions I was asking the victim –his name, his age, basically anything to keep his mind on something other than his wounds.
What was going through your head during the incident?
I was a bit nervous that the six guys would come back but the blood and the situation didn’t really make me nervous. I felt fine. All I kept thinking was that if this person were one of my Cubs lying there, I’d want someone else to come over and help. I just concentrated on thinking about all the people I cared about while I was doing that.
The truth is I would have felt very guilty if I walked away because we have to practice what we preach - if we’re teaching young people how to use these skills, we must use them too.
Which skills were the most important ones you used while dealing with this life-threatening situation?
The main one was clear decision making. I quickly assessed all four victims and saw who was most in need of help before I decided to treat the worst injured guy.
The second one was delegating. I saw a guy walking across the road and I yelled at him to call the paramedics. The guy I was treating had already lost a significant amount of blood, so I could either focus on calling an ambulance or I could get someone else to do it and I could concentrate on using my first aid knowledge to treat the stab wound.
The third one was staying calm in a crisis. That’s the most important thing. If we have an injured child, we have to remain calm so they stay calm and that’s exactly what I was doing with this victim.
Before the paramedics came, the emergency services person on the phone said‘You’re doing exactly everything that we need you to do, you’re potentially keeping him alive at the moment, so please stay there, keep pressing your shirt and keep him talking’.
When did you first join the Movement and are there any specific situations during your time in the Scouts where you’ve had to use these skills?
I officially joined the Movement in 2015 when I joined the First Greenford Scout Group. I was made Assistant Cub Leader for the 1st Uxbridge Scout Group last year.
We had one kid who came to camp and he managed to get his bottom lip stuck in the zipper of his coat. We had to debate what to do and in the end we decided to call his mom and his mom came and took him to the hospital before bringing him back to camp. So decision making and remaining calmwere important skills in that situation.
I’ve been quite lucky in Cubs in the sense that I haven’t seen a lot of accidents. And I hope it stays that way, I would prefer not to have to deal with them but if I have to, I definitely can!
What does being part of Scouts mean to you?
It means having a massive family of very like-minded people. And I love every single one of them. And I keep meeting new family members every time, which is great.
Have you spoken to your Cubs about this incident?
I did. I saw my Cubs and they were really sweet - they gave me a handmade medal made out of cardboard and they coloured it in. And they drew a picture of me in a cape.
The kids are fascinated with the story and I told them that hopefully at their age they don’t have to do anything like that but I also told them,‘Listen guys, the skills that we teach you, this is precisely why I ask you to pay attention because one day you might have to use those skills’.They wanted to know everything. They find first aid quite boring sometimes, but now they were very excited and wanted to learn everything again.
What do you consider some of the greatest benefits for young people in Scouting?
It’s a great environment to meet other young people with different experiences and backgrounds. And the basic skills that we teach our Cubs are so important. We help to develop them as young people and they grow up really well equipped with the ability for great decision-making, remaining calm and learning not to fight each other. It makes you an incredibly well rounded person to go through the Scouts.
Want to help you young people gain life-saving first aid skills? This badge support blog activity ideas and resources to help you deliver the Emergency Aid Staged Activity Badge to your young people.