Playing Casualty – Part 2

Another day of ambulance crew training yesterday.  The day started with a brief test for the students, and a bit of marking for me.  It was interesting to note the common things that were forgotten, particularly when they were things that had been drummed in to me when I was being trained by Mrs BigPara.

Then, after a brief break to go with one of the specialist trainers to pick up lunch, it was time for my favourite subject: Spinal Injuries.

I weigh about 8¾ stone, so I often end up being one of the lightest casualties there.  This makes me easiest to lift.  This makes me an ideal candidate to be put on a long board.  This means I tend to be the one who ‘gets’ a spinal injury of some description during scenarios.

We started with the removal of a crash helmet.  I’ve done this before, a First Aider can do it in an emergency when the airway is at risk. An ambulance crew has to do it if they want to get their patient on a long board.  It’s not fun.  The crew essentially have to lever off the helmet without moving the head.

It probably didn’t help that the helmet didn’t really fit, but removing that helmet hurt.  Every time someone did it my ears ended up getting scrunched up against my head.  And to make matters worse, I don’t particularly like those helmets as it is.  It wasn’t the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had.

Next was spinal boards.  First I was scooped on to one, and fastened down with normal straps.  This is fine, it’s happened to me a dozen times before, at least.  Then I was log-rolled on to the board (always a weird feeling), and then strapped down with a spider.  This is a set of straps that are all attached together instead of all separate like in normal straps.  As a casualty, I like these.  It always seems that the crews can do them up tighter, and the extra strap down my front (which holds all the rest together) tends to make me feel a little more secure when the crew are lifting and shifting me.

Despite the discomfort of the long board itself, I usually enjoy doing this.  It is always an interesting experience, and it’s got to the point now where I know precisely what is going to happen, and can just relax and let the crew get on with it.  It also included the not at all unwelcome treatment by NewDoc, a med student who I happen to fancy just a little bit.  This is another one of those relatively touchy feely techniques, particularly as nobody bothers to wear gloves during practice (what’s the point, none of us should have anything transferable by touch).  This more than made up for the uncomfortable board and occasional threats to several sensitive areas of my anatomy.

Next was the rapid take-down.  I don’t like these.  In fact, I find them particularly unnerving.  It is used to take a standing up casualty and make them in to a lying down casualty very quickly, while protecting their spine.  It involves the crew holding a spinal board against the patient, and then leaning both back until they reach the horizontal on the floor.  It’s a bit of a trust exercise, and while I’ve had it done to me before, it’s one I try to avoid if at all possible.

Finally, we had the vacuum mattress.  BigPara really likes this bit of kit, and I don’t object to it either.  A decent one can be just as effective as a long board in immobilising someone, and is much, much more comfortable.  They’re basically a big inflatable mattress filled like a bean bag, and pumped in reverse.  As the air leaves the bag, it goes rigid, moulded in the shape of the patient.  Once this had happened to me, and the entire course lifted me in one go (a little excessive, I’m considered an easy two person lift as it is…) to convince themselves that the mattress would stay rigid, I was released.

And that was it for the day.  I had to stay until the end this time, as the trainers had given me a lift to HQTown.  I sat through a lesson on the nervous system, and then got a lift home, more than a little tired after a day where I had done next to nothing…

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About The WalkingPlasterDispenser

So who is the Walking Plaster Dispenser? Well, I'm a volunteer First Aider, working with a well-known First Aid charity to help out random people I've never met before (or, more usually, when) they hurt themselves. This typically involves walking briskly (never run...) around after people who are silly enough to do sports or some other suitably daft activity in their free time. In my spare time, I am a graduate engineer, working my way through a graduate scheme with a big engineering company.

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