first aid

I went to a first aid course once.  It was mandatory for all of us in the department so we were attending with other people from the office and let me tell you,  when we walked in there and saw there was a dummy for each of us I didn’t even try to restrain my relief.  It is such a heavy burden to know that everyone would want to be partnered with me and that some would probably want to fight it out and others might become suicidal.  All that emotion gets tiring and I was already a little fatigued.  But when I saw those dummies,  I was so relieved,  I hooted and hollered and jumped up and down on the table until I choked on my candy and the instructor had to do the Heimlich manoeuvre  on me.

Once you have a strangers hands all over your chest and you projectile spit a candy across the room hitting your boss and knocking out a tooth .. . there really is no need to waste any more class time on things like ice breakers.  Hysteria pretty much tears down those walls we keep around ourselves.

We got straight into the instruction right after the boss was in the car and on his way to the emergency dental hospital with his tooth neatly wrapped up in a tissue with a bit of ice.  I offered to pack it for him but everyone else thought it best if I sit down and rest … on the other side of the room . . . behind the screen.

The instructor told us to spit out any other candy or gum we might have in our mouth.  I showed him my candy was still embedded in the wall where it landed after it ricocheted off the boss’s tooth.  I like to get points when I can.  One of the other women was chewing gum and he had to tell her three times to spit it out.  The third time he took her over the garbage can and held it out in front of him demanding she put her gum in there.  She dutifully moved her hand to her mouth and then to the garbage can.

And kept on chewing as soon as his back was turned.

He told us we had to do that in real life if we ever had to do CPR because it would be awful if we were giving someone mouth to mouth and then ended up losing our gum or candy in their mouth and they choked to death.  I also pointed out that the gum might accidentally land in their hair and then it would be really hard for them to comb it out before surgery and the person might not only have scars from the accident but the other patients might laugh at them and call them names like “sticky bubble hair” or “gum head.”

The instructor had us watch a short video and then he demonstrated on his dummy.  Half way through he thought he saw the gum woman chewing again but she said “no.”  They had a stare off and gum woman won.  Then it happened again … and again!!  Finally he made her open her mouth and show him and she did.   None of us saw any gum.

Gum woman 5, Instructor Zilch.

The instructor got all flustered but you could tell he still did not believe her.   He asked if we had any questions and then it was our turn to work on our dummies.  He pointed out these were incredibly life like and expensive and we were very fortunate to have them on loan to us for the day from the fire department’s stash.    We were all practicing away, counting out our pumps on the chest, listening for breath, pinching the nose and tilting the head back and breathing in to their mouths.  It was cool their chests rose and everything.  I was really attracted to mine.  That happens in real life too.  When you go through something really traumatic with someone you can form life long bonds.  There is no sense fighting it.  God probably even caused the accident so you would have a chance to meet.

Everything was going fine and the instructor was walking around the room encouraging, pointing out things we should or shouldn’t do,  until he came up to the woman and everything got really quiet.  Her face was all red and she seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time clearing the mouth of her dummy.  Her finger was actually stuck in there.  The instructor had to perform a fingerectomy and he just got her free when we heard him gasp and shout at the woman,  “You lost your gum in his mouth didn’t you?  DIDN’T YOU???”  She kept insisting she hadn’t.  He tried to grab the dummy and she grabbed it back.  They were tug-of-warring back and forth.  He was trying to walk away with the dummy but she would not let go so he kind of had the dummy underneath the arms and she was holding onto the waist and he was pulling one way and she the other.  He eventually ended up dragging her across the floor.  She got some awful rug burns before she finally let go.   There was smoke and everything.

The instructor was shaking the dummy and holding it up and listening to it and you could hear this “clunk clunk” inside the chest.  He turned it over and was thumping it on the back and doing the Heimlich manoeuvre again and nothing.  I thought perhaps the dummy might have inhaled a piece of metal from the car crash he was in but no, the instructor said it was gum and the dummy was permanently contaminated and ruined!!

I think he forgot that we are just first aid people, NOT doctors, and we are supposed to refrain from making any type of medical diagnosis, not even if we have dozen of friends who had the exact same thing happen to them and we are pretty sure we know what is going on.

He looked around the class.  Several of the other employees were gathered around the woman where she had crumpled on the rug.  They were wrapping her floor burns and practicing other first aid techniques like putting her arm in a sling, splintering her leg and getting a hollowed pen ready to do an emergency intubation in the neck.  I think someone had gone to fetch the jaws of life.  One lady was stitching the hem of her dress … best to focus on your area of expertise when you have so many helpful hands.

I was practicing French kissing with my dummy.

The instructor lost it and kicked us all out without any certificate for the course or anything.  He took his dummies and went home and we never had any more first aid courses, ever.  Evidently our office was banned by First Aid Canada.  They said we had killed all the dummies.

I didn’t think any of those dummies had much of a chance of making it anyway.   You kind of get a nose for that kind of thing.    They should be looking for the guy who caused the accident and not blaming us good Samaritans who took the time to stop and try to help them even though we knew it was a lost cause.  Most of them had already lost their arms and legs anyway.  At least they had someone with them when they passed and didn’t die all alone in the middle of the conference room.

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