Laura Oakley

Laura Oakley

Laura brings you all the latest stories from the British Red Cross' work across the UK – from emergency response to health and social care – as well as West and Central Africa.

Posts by Laura Oakley:

Why you have to call 999 the moment you suspect a stroke

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If you suspect stroke, call 999

We live in an era that values speed. These days you can have almost super-fast anything – from broadband to noodle soup.

It’s important to be speedy within the world of first aid too – especially when it comes to treating someone for stroke.

One stroke happens every three minutes and 27 seconds in the UK*. That’s about the same time it takes to microwave popcorn.

The good news is we can all very easily help someone having a stroke.

You just need to be able to spot it and call 999. Fast.

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Older couple ‘tickled pink’ by Facebook

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Tom and Jean Fussell learning to use their tablet with Red Cross volunteer Jo

In this day and age you can stay connected to your nearest and dearest with the touch of button. You can Skype your cousin in Canada and WhatsApp a picture of Meera the cat to your sister. You can even share your holiday snaps with friends on Instagram.

But only if you know how.

Tom and Jean Fussell did not. The couple from Radstock, both in their eighties, felt cut off from their loved ones dotted across the globe.

They had bought a tablet in the hope they could stay in touch. But they hadn’t learnt how to use it.

“It’s all new to us. We were brought up in a different era,” Jean said.

“When we went to school we had chalk and slate and a pen you had to dip in ink.”

But with a little help from a British Red Cross volunteer, that was about to change.

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Quiz: How helpful would you be on a stag or hen party?

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Conditions on a hen or stag party are perfect for the bystander effect to kick in. Act to overcome it.

The wedding season may be upon us but before anyone says “I do”, there’s one last party to be had. It’s stag and hen party time.

Hopefully you’ll have a first-aid-free evening. And even if something does go wrong, you’re sure you’ll spring to the aid of anyone who needs it.

Right? Maybe not.

There’s a phenomenon called the bystander effect taking hold of party-goers across the UK.

Would you stand by or step in? Take the quiz to find out.

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In the nick of time: ‘I feared giving birth in the car’

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Red Cross volunteers Nigel and Stuart with Claire and baby Tori

As thousands of runners’ feet pounded the roads in the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon on 10 April, an expectant mum was desperately trying to find a way through the resulting traffic.

Claire Burke had gone into labour.

She had been driving to her mum’s for breakfast with her eight-year-old daughter Mia when she’d started to feel the contractions.

“At first I thought they were Braxton Hicks (false labour),” Claire said.

But as she tried to navigate through the road closures and diversions, the contractions grew stronger and stronger. Before long they were coming every minute.

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Five ways runners could save the day with first aid

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Runners in a marathon

Whether you’re training for a marathon, a 10k or just enjoy the odd jog, as a regular runner you’re in a unique position to help others. But you might not be aware of it.

Being out and about early in the morning or in remote areas means you could be the first person to bump into someone in a first aid crisis. Would you be able to help?

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Imagining the unimaginable: coping with a disaster

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A fake disaster scene as part of the Exercise Unified Response training exercise.

Unfortunately disasters do happen. And when they do, you can rely on our help thanks to some gory make-up, a bunch of actors, and a pretend tube train…

You know what they say: practice makes perfect. When disaster does strike, we must be able to co-ordinate with the emergency services to reduce casualties and distress.

That’s why we travelled to Kent to put our volunteers’ skills to the test in Exercise Unified Response – Europe’s biggest emergency training exercise organised by the London Fire Brigade.

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‘Knowing first aid helped me save a motorcyclist’s life’

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Helen Cowen used her first aid skills to save the life of a motorcyclist who crashed outside her home.Not everyone could handle the sight of a bloodied motorcyclist with a badly severed leg. Helen Cowen could, and her first aid knowledge saved a man’s life.

“I had decided to sit in the garden one evening when I heard a loud crash,” Helen said.

“At first I thought something had fallen off our recently renovated house. But as I walked to the front of the house, I could see a small crowd gathered on the pavement outside.”

The scene outside her house was upsetting.

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