Tuesday, 8 April 2014

First Aid in date. Check.

Over the past two days I've been on a first aid course. Just a Level 1. I've done about three of them in years gone by and also a Level 3, which must have been back in about 2003. I've been out-of-date for a long time. Too long.

While I remembered the basics of CPR and dealing with bleeding, I really appreciated the refresher. We all had our own head-and-torsos to practice on and I found doing multiple cycles, as you'd do in a real situation, to be really beneficial for practicing technique.

Something I've never done before is to use an A.E.D. These are the portable, anyone-can-use defibrillators that are in malls, airplanes and other public venues. They're all over the US. You pretty much turn it on and it tells you what to do. This was a good thing to see and use.

This afternoon I volunteered to be the victim in a scenario. I had a play-play wound on my right leg that showed a bad fracture with a protruding piece of tibia. With some dribbling blood. And also a gash on my right arm.

Then there was the full-body CPR mannequin, which was lying a few metres from me, flat on his back. Unconscious and not breathing.

They were told that there was a wounded female and she'd heard a scream. The scene was set in such a way that I'd heard a scream (from the dude) and as I'd turned to look I'd fallen off the table that I was standing on to wash the windows and had broken my leg. The dude had been bitten by a snake, which is why he'd screamed. There was a plastic snake under a piece of paper lying under the one side of his body.

My classmates were sent through in groups of four. This was actually a superb learning situation for me because I got to see how everyone else reacted.

The four generally split into two pairs with one to help me and one to help the guy. Of the four pairs attending to me, only one actually spoke to me to say hello and ask what happened. The others immediately started wrapping bandages around my arm and leg. There was a sweet lass in the last group - she sat next to me in class, who was the only one to reassure me that I'd be ok. Very sweet.

Not all groups removed the hazard (fallen over table) and none called for help; although one pair called for an ambulance for the guy, but didn't notify them of me and my protruding bone.

The pairs with the guy were funny about the snake. Most didn't see it, kneeling on top of it to do CPR. Two pairs picked it up to fling into the bushes. I couldn't help but laugh, interrupting my Oscar Award-winning performance. None removed the 'live' electrical wire and other hazards.

The first three first aid steps are Hazards (make the area safe for you and patient), Hello (say hello to the victim, tap them to gauge consciousness and responsiveness and ask what happened) and Help (phone for assistance).

It's amazing how in this timed training situation all three went out the window. I may have done the same thing.

But even though my rescuers didn't say hello to me, one thing I do know for sure is that they all wanted to help me and even though all but one spoke to me, they were so sweet every time I groaned and squiggled in response to them putting pressure on my wound or trying to lift my leg. Very sympathetic and caring.

I like to think that I don't panic and would have a cool head in an emergency. Fortunately little grosses me out. I've only been in a serious emergency situation once... maybe it was 16 years ago (heart attack, outside, at a post-tournament dinner). I assisted my team mate - he must have been a 5th or 6th year medical student at the time, with CPR. Once others brought the big first aid kit to us, I turned to ventilation using a squeezy ventilation bottle thing while he did the chest compressions.

I don't remember how long it took the ambulance to arrive but they were then there for an hour or more, continuing resus in the vehicle. Before the ambulance arrived I do remember vaguely people standing around, including the man's wife, as we were trying to help him. I don't remember much else. My full attention was on the patient. He didn't make it.

I'm really glad to have taken these two days to get my First Aid certificate in-date again. The refresher was well worth it.

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