Debra Johnson, CSALS’ community facilitator, explains how she got involved with the organisation…

My first introduction to CSALS was back in 2016. I’d heard via my matchday hostess role at Chesterfield Football Club that a world record attempt was to made at the stadium during the close season. Intrigued, I gathered further details.

A meeting had been held, which included two of the trustees, Dr Cheryle Berry MBE and lead trainer John Hutchinson, together with CFC management. Their wish was to achieve a new Guinness World Record on the football pitch, for the largest first aid lesson at any one time. I decided to take part and join in an exciting atmosphere where the objective was successfully achieved. The new world record consisted of a staggering 1,795 people taking part!

Following this achievement, we were kindly invited to a ‘thank you meal’ with a group of people who had been involved in the planning and delivery of the event. I was asked to sing, which I obliged and pulled in the assistance of a friend to help assist in performing some familiar duets.

The next time my path crossed with CSALS was in 2018 with an invitation to Westminster to mark the launch of a link-up with Virtual College. It was an enjoyable event and a turning point for me personally. This partnership was a giant leap for CSALS as it provided the platform for our free online course.

During the launch, we were shown the new promotional video, three minutes long but with lots of impact. I watched intently and began to feel quite emotional at the message the video was conveying. On leaving the Houses of Parliament, I commented to my husband: ‘I would love to be involved in something like this…..something that makes a difference’.

My employment at the time wasn’t giving me any job satisfaction. How much better it would be if I could be involved in CSALS, and have a small part to play in helping to save lives.

I came from an era when schools didn’t really offer any relevant first aid training. Maybe, on one occasion, someone came and showed us some CPR compressions on a dummy! Not what I would call good training. 

Many of us are walking around each day without any knowledge of what to do if someone collapses, or if we witness an accident. It’s so easy to just call 999, but our wonderful NHS is so busy now and the arrival of a paramedic could be a bit too late in some circumstances. When brain cells start to die after one minute, you must act immediately – it is the difference between life or death.

My role as community facilitator for CSALS is to raise awareness of the need for first aid training and also raise the profile of the charity whilst promoting our free online course. 

I’d like to think that my background in teaching and performing, together with my commercial experience, can help achieve this.

Look out for our fundraising events, including ‘Fun Gin Tasting’, ’Gin with a Grin’ and curry and comedy nights, hosted by myself and my husband, Nick Johnson.

It takes approximately an hour to complete our online course, providing a basic awareness with enough knowledge to save a life.

The current number of lifesavers that have been trained via our online course stands at around 9,000. Onwards and upwards to 10,000!