When Lauren Nicol went to a local first aid course, she had nothing more ambitious in mind than learning some useful life-saving tips.
She recalled: “I wanted to learn about first aid, and saw in a newspaper that the British Red Cross offered free training if you became a volunteer – so I signed up.”
Shortly after, Lauren got an opportunity to visit Germany and work with the German Red Cross. She jumped at the chance.
Based in the city of Halle, Lauren was helping out at a kindergarten (which is funded by the Red Cross) when she suddenly found herself in the middle of a natural disaster.
Heavy rains caused the River Elbe to rise by 26 feet, flooding much of the city, and 30,000 people were told to leave their homes. For the Red Cross, it was a time for action.
The 21-year-old recalled: “I was involved in helping to run the blood banks. It was a massive flood, so the German Red Cross came to the rescue as they had a lot of volunteers and equipment.”
Help in Nepal
Following all that excitement, Lauren wound down with some time in Nepal – but she was soon putting her first aid skills to use again.
She said: “I didn’t go to Nepal with the Red Cross, but while trekking in the Himalayas I was approached by two young kids. One had a fishing hook caught in his finger, and I had my first aid kit with me so treated his injury.”
She added: “I also worked in two orphanages, where I helped out with small things like plasters and paracetamol, which weren’t always available there.”
Even after so much globe-trotting, Lauren still has the travelling bug – and luckily, she’ll be packing her bags again soon.
She said: “While in Germany, I met a family and babysat their twin girls in my spare time. Now they are paying me to go over for two months this summer to look after the girls.”
Lauren traces her exciting year directly back to the first aid course in Glasgow: “Learning first aid has opened a lot of doors for me, and I feel more confident as a person because of it.”
She added: “It’s meant that I’ve done a lot of things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. It’s made me look at the world differently.”
Note: Time is running out to apply for the last available placement this year – in Halle, Germany. Applications close 10am, Tuesday 15 July.