Monday, 28 April 2014

Got a gash? Call me.

Earlier this month I did my First Aid Level 1 certification to get in-date again (it has been a while!). While surfing the web for courses, I came across an offering of a suturing course from Pulse Point. I signed up and on Saturday afternoon I attended the two-hour course.

With this run of public holidays and long weekends, it ended up being just me on the course, with my instructor Stephan -  a former paramedic and, as it turns out, a keen cyclist and obstacle-course competitor. Stephan left working on the road two-years ago after their emergency response vehicle was T-boned by a vehicle that went through a red robot. He was seriously injured and his partner was very nearly killed. He is now a very capable trainer; one with clear instructions and techniques.

We went through techniques and steps for suturing three different types of wounds. There's a plain ol' slice, like from a knife. No flesh missing, no jagged edges - just a clean cut. Then there's a wound where a chunk has been taken out - like we'd see from mountain biking falls. And then there's the jagged / serated, uneven wound - also something we'd see from mountain biking injuries.

Stephan first went over how to inject local anaesthetic, which I did to my subject, an orange.

And then I got to work suturing its wounds. My sutures definitely got neater with practice.

I did this course because I figure that suturing is a useful skill to have - for adventure racing and just because. Back at varsity I learned to suture (animals, not people - same thing really) but it has been many years; so nice to feel clued-in again.

The thing about suturing is that there's no rush. You've got plenty of time to get to a doctor to have the wound attended to. Of course the on-site issue would be to stop the bleeding. Sutures come later. But in adventure racing... It could be many many hours before the medics can get to you or you can get to a clinic.

An emergency room visit and a bill for a few thousand Rand... Puh! I've got enough scars from wounds that should have had sutures but didn't. That's where I see this little skill being useful. A gash on the knee or elbow really is not a biggie and I'm definitely not precious about scars. It's a different story if the wound is really serious and involves more than skin (nerves, tendons, muscle) or is on your face - it's not ideal to have a big gash across your forehead sutured by a hobbyist.

So for 'normal' kinda wounds, I'm game.

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