In seventh grade we had a wonderful, strict, knowledgeable teacher who thought that at twelve we were able to learn some practical skills. The first course she taught us was Junior First Aid, using a teachers’ manual similar to the one pictured above.
Among things we learned that I have never had occasion to use was how to fold a large square of muslin into a sling for an arm. Pinning it together with a safety pin(I don’t think she trusted our knot skills) we could all treat our peers as though they had just broken their arms. While the boys eagerly volunteered to put slings on the girls, Mrs. McElveny restricted us to same sex applications!
We learned to clean wounds, stop bleeding, remove slivers, and know when to exclaim “that is going to need stitches!” I did have occasion to use that phrase several times in my adult life.
The most important lesson I learned was how to treat choking. Since the Heimlich manuever had not been developed, we were to use a sharp slap on the back of a bent over person. She did not have us practice this since she knew the mayhem that would result. Instead she used a doll as a prop. But some months later I went into the kitchen and saw my four year old sister sitting on the counter, box of dried prunes in her hand, looking stricken. Realizing she was choking, I hauled her down, put her over my arm and hit her hard on the back. The prune came flying out and she was able to breathe.
My sister went screaming to my mother that I had hit her! But I had a good story to tell my first aid teacher who was appropriately impressed.