Wednesday, June 21, 2006
First Aid Training: Day One
Today at first aid training, I learned the ABCs of emergency response: Airway, Breathing, Circulation. Should some unfortunate soul clutch his heart and shriek "I'm having chest pains!" before blacking out at my feet, I'll know just what to do! I hope. Here's how I remember the procedure:
***THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE, MERELY MY OWN ATTEMPT TO SEE HOW MUCH INFORMATION I'VE PROPERLY ABSORBED...DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME***
First, I'll check the scene to see if there are any immediate hazards, seen or unseen: traffic, downed power lines, explosions, supervillains, poison gas, etc. Then I'll kneel beside the victim and say,
"Hello! My name is Earl. I'm just trying to be a better person..."
Gah, sorry. Wrong scenario.
"Hello! My name is Earl. I have first aid training. Are you okay?"
I'll prod the victim on the shoulder to test responsiveness. If the victim doesn't respond, this implies consent to begin first aid.
First, I'll call 911, or direct the nearest bystander to do so thusly:
"Call 911! Do you understand me? Will you come back when you've called?"
If the bystander understands, I'll slip on my sterile gloves on and continue to the ABCs.
First, I'll make sure that the airway is clear, by tilting the head back and lifting the jaw so that the victim's relaxed tongue isn't blocking his airway. (If there's a chance of spinal injury, I'll perform the chin lift ONLY.) I'll check the victim's mouth to see if there's anything blocking the airway.
Good Lord! A huge wad of bubblegum wrapped around a Dr. Julian Bashir action figure! I'll fork it out with my fingers and roll the victim toward me so that gravity will help any remaining debris or fluids drain out.
Next, check B for breathing. After rolling the victim back onto his back, I lower my head to the victim's face, listening for the sounds of respiration, feeling for breath on my cheek. GREAT KRYPTON! Nil breathing! Two quick rescue breaths are in order. I dig my sterile shield with one-way valve out of my pocket, tilt the head back by the chin, and plug the victim's nostrils with peanuts...I mean, my fingers. I blow through the valve and into the hapless sap's mouth for two full seconds, watching to see if the chest rises. It does. I wait a beat and blow again. Fwoosh!
Now check for C, circulation. Fingers pressed to the carotid artery, I check for a pulse. HOLY SMASHAMOLEY! NO PULSE! Wetting my pants, I realize I'm gonna have to perform CPR.
First, find the heart. With one finger, trace along the victim's abdomen to find the bottom of the sternum. Use that position as a pointer and place the other hand "above" it, toward the victim's head. Make sure the heel of the hand is over the heart, and start pumping: one thousand one, one thousand two...fifteen seconds, back to the head for another two breaths, alternate between breathing and pumping for one minute, then reassess whether the victim has started to breathe again.
He is! Hooray.
I also learned how to save a severed limb, how to hold someone's guts in, and how to ensure that a pencil embedded in the eyeball will do as little damage as possible. All in all, a pretty gory day.
As I anticipated, I had to stifle my laughter at the instructional videos. The acting is so awful, the situations so contrived that it's really hard not to guffaw. In the first segment, a homeowner climbs to the very tippy top of a rickety stepladder, overextends himself and crashes to the ground with an unconvincing "AIIIEEEEunf!" In another, a little girl is hit in the leg with a rock flung from a lawnmower blade, and the blood spurts through her clutching fingers. Pretty awful, I know, but the music, the lighting, the editing and direction all conspire to make the scene humourous instead of ominous. They've gotta work on that.
But the biggest news is that tomorrow they teach us how to use...
THE DEFIBRILLATOR!!!!!! BZZZZZZZZZZZZTTT!!!! CLEAR!!!!!
The photo above captures the look on Sylvia's face when I told her this.