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‘I would never have forgiven myself’: How farmer’s first aid training saved his son’s life

A Co Tyrone farmer has stressed the importance of first aid training for those working in the agricultural sector.

Without the training he received from CAFRE, Derek Robinson fears that he might not have been able to save his son who collapsed after being overcome by slurry fumes.

In May 2019, Derek had just received a new batch of chickens. Derek’s son Ben, then aged six, was excited about seeing the new chickens so, had come with his dad to have a look.

On the way down to the chicken house, Derek stopped at the slurry tank so that he could make arrangements to start mixing it while he and Ben went to see the chickens.

Derek left Ben at a safe distance outside on the yard, whilst he worked at the tank for a few minutes.

Weather-wise, Derek remembers it being a nice calm day with no breeze.

After a couple of minutes Derek checked on Ben only to find him walking towards him with a cut on his head.

Derek’s first thought was that he had fallen and had hit his head so he lifted Ben and started carrying him towards the house to get the cut seen to.

At that point however, Ben’s eyes started rolling in his head and after Derek placed his son on the ground, he also realised that he wasn’t breathing. Ben had been overcome by the fumes from the slurry tank.

Fortunately, Derek had been on a first aid awareness course so knew to start doing CPR right away. It took roughly about one and a half minutes before Ben thankfully started breathing again.

Derek’s message to everyone, but particularly the farming community, knowing the everyday dangers that exist in this high risk environment, is to avail of the free First Aid Awareness training being offered by CAFRE at present, through the Farm Family Key Skills (FFKS) programme.

In Derek’s own words: “Knowing what to do in those few minutes saved my son’s life and I would never have forgiven myself if I hadn’t been able to save him.”

FFKS First Aid Awareness training is free to farm families and farm workers and is delivered by Global Horizon Skills Ltd.

Training is currently available as an online evening session, easily accessible by all the family via Zoom, in the comfort of your own home. Eligible participants completing the training will also be provided with a First Aid kit.

Dates and times of the training sessions can be found on the CAFRE website at:

To find out more, please contact Colette on Tel: 028 822 50544 or email Colette or Catherine on:

Farm Family Key Skills courses are an important element of the Rural Development Programme.  The FFKS programme is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

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