I hate the sight of blood. I cringe each time I see accidents on TV. I even refrain from watching the news during the New Year as I know it will feature people losing their limbs over pyrotechnic accidents. I was thus not particularly ecstatic when my company sent me to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Lapu-Lapu Cordova Chapter for my First Aid and Basic Life Support training.
I had no medical background thus I felt at a loss during our first day as the instructor discussed about what medial, inferior, proximal etc. meant. I felt even more at loss because among all my classmates, I was probably the most inexperienced (more than half of the class were caregivers, two of my colleagues were nurses, one works for our Recreations Department and was just there to renew his certificates and another worked in an ambulance for 10 years). To make up for it, I thus made it a point to read our handbook every day and to do online research.
The training was tough. Every day, we had a quiz and I was just glad my efforts paid off as I passed all the quizzes. I even got 100% on our second quiz. But what really drained me were the physical exercises. The carries, bandaging, splinting and basic life support (read: cardiopulmonary rescue or CPR) were grueling activities that not only entailed physical strength but mastery of the step-by-step process and / or the practice of ergonomics.
Bandaging / Splinting
My greatest challenge in this was folding the triangular bandage properly (the one where I had to make the point and the base meet) as everyone except me knew how to do it. After some time, I got the hang of it and I then got to learning various bandaging techniques. I learned that the bandage to be applied depends on where the injury is located and how severe it is.
As for the splinting part, our instructor just demonstrated the proper way of putting splints and pointers on what and what not to do in splinting.
Carries / Drags / Assists
These were activities that really exhausted me because it was tiring to carry someone, especially if s/he is heavy. Funny. At some point, a colleague of mine volunteered to be the victim but he was met with protests. Most of us said he was too heavy thus no one wanted to pair with him. Our instructor overheard us and chastised us, saying that in accidents, we couldn’t very well choose our victim. We jokingly responded that in real situation, we won’t be picky but since this was just an exercise, we could do with only those that we can easily carry. LOL.
Basic Life Support
The demonstration from our instruction fascinated me. I watched in awe as he performed chest compressions, CPR and rescue breathing on the dummy. I knew that afterwards, we were supposed to do it ourselves and honestly, I was fine with doing the first two but was very hesitant about the latter. I mean, come on, who wanted to perform “mouth-to-mouth” on a dummy that’s obviously been used hundreds of times?! I was so hesitant I thought of asking for an exemption but it was the thought that this could save a life that made me tough it out and just meet the challenge head-on. That and the fact that we’d use gauze over the mouth so it’s not really as if I would perform “mouth-to-mouth” to it.
Thankfully, I was able to learn how to do it properly as I passed the exercises on doing basic life support on an infant, a child and an adult. But boy, was it the most challenging among all our activities as the counting alone (1, 1002, 1003, 1001 breathe / 1, 1002, 1003, 1002 breathe…) could easily make one lose track of everything. And to think we had to count until 1024 for adults (and a count of 40 on children / infants!), huh!
Aside from the quizzes and actual exercises, our learning was put to the test when at the end of our course, a simulation was made. Our instructor chose 3 victims among the class who supposedly were victims of an explosion and asked the rest of us to help them out. It was tough as this time, we have to assess the situation and their injuries ourselves (unlike before when the instructor would just say the injury is on the leg or the burn is located on the chest etc). Good thing we passed this final test.
All in all, it was a really fun and fruitful experience I’d gladly take again when my certificates expire.