14 July 2017

Casualty Care

First aid scares me. Or rather; the thought of having to use my first aid skills scares me. I do know, though, that having such skills is generally a Good Thing. So I got the University to send me off to a first aid course, but why stop there? As a member of the Cave Rescue team I am supposed to be able to deal with rather serious injuries somewhere where professional emergency services can't come. The sort of first aid we might have to deliver is classed as Casualty Care. Every team has a few cas carers, as they are known; I always figured I should add myself to that list but life always got in the way. But then an opportunity called!

The initiative came, as expected, from Mountain Rescue; we cave rescuers never get called out, but they do; they might get more call-outs in a typical week as we do in a typical year. But if we're ever needed, we had better be able to step up to the game! So two of us North Wales Cave Rescuers were at the course. Let's hope we're never needed. But were we to come across an incident, we (and the casualties) will be glad we got ourselves educated!

The course would be at a sailing school which forms part of a navy compound nearby. It's next to our local climbing wall. It's so close by I could bike!

I initialy turned up at the wrong entrance. Oh well. I was also supposed to have read a book of which they had sent the (unprintable) PDF. But it was a 400 page book, and I don't want to read that many pages from a screen in addition to my rather screeny day job! I had brushed up on my general first aid instead; I have a hardcopy book for that.

There were some 15 to 20 participants there, and a varying number of physicians to teach us. These turned out to be orthopaedic surgeons, anaesthesists, etcetera; not first aid trainers who teach us all they know, but high-flying professionals who can only teach us a tiny bit of their knowledge. That made it extra interesting! They knew the answer to any question we came up with. They also knew how important it is to monitor a casualty; they are at the receiving end of the people we drag off mountains and out of caves, and know how helpful it is if we can present a comprehensive timeline of what has happened with and to the unfortunate we hand over.

It was a bit full-on to do a seven to nine session after a full working day on Friday, a full day on Saturday, and a nine to four day on Sunday; weekends tend to be for the sort of stuff you don't have time for during the week, like laundry. But I managed!

We got lectures on all sorts of things. Head trauma, chest trauma, fractures, medication, drowning, whatnot. And we practiced things. Some of that was patient assessment; we would get a dummy or a live volunteer with a simulated problem. Sometimes we would practice techniques. That was a bit more than I was used to; these Mountain Rescue types have all the kit! Oxygen cylinders, entonox cylinders, AEDs, (dia)morphine, you name it! We ended up playing with the lot, including shoving saline solution (pretending to be drugs) into each other's noses and leg muscles. Exciting!

On the Saturday we had a quick post-class BBQ. That was nice. People didn't linger, though; I suppose many had a fair way to travel. And everybody had to be sharp for the next day as well. But having a burger with nice people at the shores of the Menai Strait is nice!

Evening shot of the Menai Strait from the balcony

Practicing scenarios indoors

After three days we were done. We had everything we had done signed off on our logbooks. We need to get these completed soon. That means: more training! And we need to revise for the exam. I got a printable version of the book from a team member. I will have to absorb its contents before the exam in September. And I will have to practice primary surveys on my teddybear! But if all goes well I should be much more competent at providing medical assitance than ever before at the end of this. And that's good!

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