Straight away, I can see the man isn’t breathing.

“Quick! Call an ambulance!” I shout at the woman beside me. As she runs to alert emergency services, I call the man’s name. There’s no response. I tap his collar bone, but he doesn’t move. I check his breathing again.

Nothing.

With time running out, I know I need to start CPR.

I kneel beside him and begin the compressions, keeping count in my head as I go: one, two, three, four, five. When I hit thirty, I pause to give mouth-to-mouth breaths.

I’m on my fifth cycle of CPR, my arms beginning to ache, when the woman returns.

“The ambulance has arrived,” she says. I’ve never felt so relieved – and this isn’t even a real emergency.

The man in front of me, the one I’ve just spent five minutes trying to resuscitate, is a plastic training manikin.

There are identical manikins scattered around the room. In front of them, pressing their chests and pinching their noses, are people just like me, all taking part in a Red Cross first aid course.

We’ve only just started training but already, the importance of knowing first aid is clear. What if this manikin was my brother? My mother?

In an emergency, the first people on the scene aren’t doctors – they’re mums and dads, neighbours and children. That’s why it’s so important everyone knows what to do.

Red Cross offers practical, hands-on first aid courses that empower Kiwis to look after themselves and their families, no matter where they are.

Whether you want to learn from scratch or just refresh your skills, Red Cross has something to suit you. Courses range from general first aid through to more specialised options – lone worker first aid, sports first aid for coaches, outdoor first aid and even online training.

You can also download Red Cross’ free first aid app, which features step-by-step advice, videos and interactive quizzes.

Book a Red Cross first aid course today.