Yet again, I seem to have got myself booked up several weeks in advance.
Last weekend, I was off to play casualty again for BigPara. It was assessment weekend, so plenty of scenarios to keep me and my fellow casualty busy. Saturday, after an interesting session on Emergency Child Birth, I spent the day getting collared and boarded. Nothing new there.
Except there was a difference this time. I had ‘damaged’ myself up a narrow flight of stairs. This meant that, had the scenario run it’s full course, the crew would have had to carry me down the stairs. There is only one way that could have been done: on a board, feet first.
Luckily for me, they didn’t have to take it that far. Unfortunately, BigPara still had to be sure they would have succeeded. This basically meant that they had to lift the long board up to the vertical. With me strapped to it. Or more accurately, suspended from the straps. That was an interesting experience.
Next day, I was the resus patient. Cue one CVA, also known as a Stroke. In my case, this was heralded by Expressive Dysphasia, where I had great difficulty with spoken language, and an inability to control my left arm. These are two classic signs of a stroke. If you live in the UK, you’ve almost certainly seen the adverts for FAST, a protocol to help identify a stroke (if you haven’t, I can’t recommend reading that web page enough). I ticked two of the boxes, Speech and Arms. Oddly enough, once the crew knew what was going on, I was quickly hustled out of the room I was in.
Unfortunately for them, I arrested just as they arrived at their ambulance. How inconvenient of me ;). One resuscitation attempt later, and I was done (or is that done for).
Last weekend was fun, but next weekend has the potential of being better.
I have applied to join our cyclists, and the training is happening this weekend. If I manage to get one of the five places on the course (eek!) I could be learning to cycle around with a ridiculous amount of gear on one of our amazing push bikes :D. If you hadn’t guessed, I’m a little excited, and a lot nervous.
I suspect the rest of the week is going to include me compulsively checking my emails, hoping for a response.
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…
One thing I love about the group I volunteer with is, I don’t just get to do First Aid. I spent most of today being a casualty, paperwork bitch and general dogsbody for a training course for our ambulance crews. I’ve done this loads of times before, during which I’ve been extracted from minibuses, strapped to spinal boards so many times I can now release myself relatively easily, and been on the receiving end of a standing take-down (a method of moving someone with a suspected spinal injury from the standing position to lying down on a spinal board – it can be a very unnerving experience) several times in one day.
Despite all this, I go back to help out at all the courses I can get to. Why? Because it’s fun! I love playing casualty, being made up to have various injuries (if we’re feeling keen), and experiencing first hand the sort of things these members of ours can do.
Oh, and I have my own motives as well. Hopefully, early in the new year, I should be starting this training myself. While I have never seen an entire course, hopefully this will give me a little bit of a head start. There’s a lot to learn, and I suspect anything to help out will be very useful.
One of the early things to be covered was the Secondary Survey, where the treating person has examine the patient from top to toe to find any injuries. This involves ‘getting down to skin level’, which basically means they can’t do all of the survey through my clothes. I don’t really have a problem with this, in reality it only really means my trousers get rolled up and my top gets lifted, and if they’re feeling brave, my shoes and socks get removed. Nothing to worry or be particularly shy about. In my experience, many First Aiders (particularly the more empathetic ones) are quite touchy-feely anyway, and while it’s not something I do very much myself, I don’t have a problem with it (provided it’s kept ‘appropriate’). (I was very surprised, however, when BigPara, who runs the course, seemed to be idly playing with my hair!)
Unfortunately for me and my reputation as a casualty, I am particularly ticklish, something which a couple of people have discovered and use to their advantage. At first it was just a case of grit my teeth and get on with it. This was fine over my clothes. When, however, BigPara was examining my sides under my T shirt, I couldn’t stop wriggling and laughing. I was supposed to be unconscious, this didn’t exactly do much for my credibility.
Things only got worse when Mrs BigPara took over the examination. To give you a hint, she had just spent quite a bit of time outside.
She put her hands on my bare stomach to examine for abdominal problems. They were cold. In fact, they were freezing. My reflexes instantly took over, trying to move me away from them. I might have yelled a little bit. Needless to say, everyone but me thought it was very funny.
After this lovely little incident, the next thing I had to do was blood pressures. This wasn’t too bad, though my low blood pressure surprised everyone who measured mine. I even got to have a go, which I really didn’t expect. I managed to get quite close to what LittlePara got, which, considering I’m still a long way from doing this course myself, I’m quite pleased about.
That was about it for today. I then got to escape early while everyone else was doing a lot of the not particularly interesting but very important theory. I have the same again tomorrow, which means I really should be going to bed. I wonder what they’ll be doing then…