Hi, my name is Lauren and I’m the Manager at Dawn until Dusk (nursery and wrap around care) where I have worked for 6 years. I have been to two of the ABC Life Support first aid courses and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Normally first aid courses are seen as a chore, but the way Danielle teaches is amazing – she engages so well with everyone in the room!
I have a major love of cars – me and my wife met through a car show, and we’ve been together ever since! We regularly clean our cars together and Sunday was no different. We took all the cleaning products out that we usually use, and I set to work cleaning the engine bay of our new car.
Normally I wouldn’t wear gloves but for some reason I didn’t want to get my hands that dirty. So, I put some gloves on which are used for heavy lifting and protecting your hands whilst working – they are coated with rubber on the fingers. Off I went using the engine degreaser that I have used numerous times before to remove oil stains and tough marks. Within no longer than 20 minutes, I suddenly felt my fingers tingling which was a shock to me.
I quickly removed the gloves as I’d started to get stabbing pains in my fingers. I looked down at my hand and I could physically see my skin disappearing around my fingers, I threw everything to the ground and ran inside, in agony thinking “Oh my god! What do I do?!”.
I suddenly remembered my first aid training. It’s a burn. It’s a burn. I’m saying in my head! I threw the back door open running into the kitchen and ran the cold tap, blasting my fingers for nearly half an hour. I’ve never experienced a chemical burn before, but I knew I needed to keep running the water.
I did the online symptom checker on the NHS page where it said 111 was going to call me back within half an hour. After the initial shock of seeing my skin dissolving in front of my very eyes, I then began to freak out a little, shaking and hoping that I’d followed the correct procedure for treating the burns. Luckily, 111 called me back within 10 minutes and I didn’t have time to panic anymore. We went through all the ingredients on the cleaner and she said that I needed to come straight to A&E due to the chemicals in the degreaser.
My wife then drove me straight to A&E where I was seen quickly. I was clutching the bag with the cleaner in as they requested me to bring it in just in case they needed to investigate the ingredients. The nurse was wonderful. She said that my quick thinking of running my hand under the water saved the majority of my skin on my fingers. I was so pleased to hear that but so shocked that it could have been a different outcome completely if I didn’t have my knowledge of first aid! She used special little tabs of paper to identify if anymore of the chemical was in my wounds. Thankfully, there was none present, and then she bandaged me up. She said to keep them on for two to three days. And that when I took them off, the burns would heal like sunburn does.
I’m so grateful that my first aid knowledge enabled me to save my own fingers from losing the majority of their skin which would have resulted in much more extreme medical care and procedures. First aid is such an important thing to learn. I was talking to a friend after the incident happened and she had no idea that was what you had to do with a burn. I was shocked and I explained that you don’t just leave it under running water for a few minutes – you need to leave it until you physically cannot feel any burning sensation, as you’re skin has lots of layers. I was so lucky to know what I was doing even if I was mid freak out. Imagine if that were my friend that got burnt or had a chemical burn – it would be a very different situation than what I’m in now.
I just want to say a massive thank you to Danielle for her amazing first aid courses. And a thank you to Dawn Until Dusk who provide this training for us. And of course the NHS staff who helped me at A&E and 111.
Photos of Lauren’s fingers showing the chemical burns & bandages from A&E