Whiffen looks to standardize first aid program

The University of Lethbridge is, in effect, its own bustling city. As such, it has all the infrastructure of what's expected in a small metropolis. The ability to not only deal with but also manage first aid situations is an essential service that has been entrusted to First Aid Co-ordinator Jacquie Whiffen RN (BA '10).

The nursing program alumnus has been in her role for just over a year now and during that time has been working to understand the current first aid landscape with the goal of establishing a program that will standardize and further publicize a co-ordinated program. People have been dealing with first aid situations in their own areas for years but overall co-ordination of all aspects has not been emphasized.

"Departments on campus each have their own way of recording incidents and it makes tracking of first aid issues less cohesive," says Whiffen. "Streamlining the process will aid in communication of key problems and aid in ensuring our overall safety."

Jacquie Whiffin
Jacquie Whiffen sorts through a campus first aid kit, auditing its contents so that it will be stocked and ready for a possible first aid situation.

Much of her work in the first year has been in terms of an audit, including the creation of a grid that details how many employees are on campus at any given time, day or night. She's also been trying to determine just who on campus has been trained in first aid and whether they need to be recertified. Much of her summer work will consist of finding and charting where all the first aid kits exist on campus, then going through them to see if they are properly stocked.

"One of the main things we'd like to try and do in the fall is to present a first aid awareness campaign to the University community so everyone is aware of how to respond to and report first aid situations or issues," says Whiffen. "The idea isn't to come in and change everything. If it's working, why fix it? Occupational Health and Safety Code has strict requirements for first aid in any workplace and we strive to both meet and exceed requirements to ensure everyone's well-being."

Whiffen is originally from Tumbler Ridge, B.C. and worked in a variety of administrative support roles, always telling the people around her that one day she would become a nurse. After giving birth to her first daughter, she decided it was time to finally make that dream a reality and she enrolled at Lethbridge College, putting her on the path to completing her nursing degree at the U of L.

When she saw the opportunity to return to the University after working for two years as a nurse in a variety of roles, she jumped at the chance.

"I loved being here as a student, and for a nurse building a first-aid program presents a great challenge," she says. "I like to be challenged and this as an opportunity to grow professionally. It is great to be part of a place that people look out for each other and provide support when an individual faces a health concern."

As for first aid crises she faces at the U of L, Whiffen, who is based out of the Health Centre, says she sees everything.

"Nurses at the Health Centre see everything from cuts and bee stings to chronic disease related issues such as seizures or low blood sugar, as well as sports related injuries and slips and falls," she says. "In this position, I am looking forward to working with the University community to ensure people's first aid needs are met."


· Whiffen is expecting her second child and will go on maternity leave in the fall

· Her parents moved from Tumbler Ridge to Elkford, B.C. some years ago, leading her to look at southern Alberta as a possible location to eventually go to school

· Whiffen appreciated the learning model in the nursing program. "I felt a lot of autonomy being here at the University, there was a lot of freedom to shape my own education. You're given direction but you are also treated and respected as an adult and as an equal. I really think students
appreciate that."

· For all questions related to first aid training or policies, contact Whiffen at