First Aid Course and Triage situations..
I finally did my 1st aid course last weekend. I hadn’t really looked forward to doing it. I couldn’t see what i could learn in 2 days that i could use with confidence in a real situation. The last time i’d done first aid was in St John’s when i was 13. We went there as we’d heard it was full of girls, as had the other boys, and only boys there. Needless to say, we didn’t last long and were soon kicked out for mummifying others, and just generally messing about. I suppose it was to prevent the class from becoming a real first aid incident. So off i went on my bondage course (as one of my friends insists on calling it, she worries me sometimes), glad that I’d done it in January on a weekend that could be described as manky at best. Of course, I’d not factored that i’d be outside, laid on the wet ground. The course was ran by Katherine of Active First Aid training and was designed with the needs of the ML (and other similar courses) in mind. It was held at the rather up market Seiont Manor Hotel near Caernarfon.
Despite my initial concerns, I really have to say that I enjoyed the course. The first day Katherine taught us the ABCDE procedure, in basic terms the following. A = check the airway, B = the breathing, C = Circulation (are they bleeding?), D = Disability (broken bones, etc), E – Environment, make sure the casualty is safe from the environment (wrapped up!) and the searching for minor injuries. Looking online, there’s different specific defniitions, but they all essentially meant the same – check this article for an overview as i’m not qualified to be explaining all this.
This was then put into action as we all took our turns to act as casualties. We also did a bit of peer assessment, which i found a great way to learn. It was the kind of course that kept you on your toes all the way, there was nowhere to hide which meant the only thing you could do was pick up the skills. We even had surprises, as I’d been asked to collapse and be the casualty for my group, something they didn’t expect. I left on Saturday physically and mentally tired as it is a very intensive course.
Sunday, arriving late due to a flat tyre, was more on the bondage/bandage side. The strange thing is, some of the stuff I’d learnt 10 years ago (ok, a little longer ago than that) at St Johns must have come back to me. I found the bandage bit a lot easier than I’d anticipated, that was the bit I’d been dreading before starting the course. Again we were doing scenarios outside, and it felt a lot more realistic than practicing indoors. We also improvised with gear we’d have on the mountain to produce splints, bandages and padding. I’d joked with some of the others that I’d hate to collapse for real on the course as nobody’d know you were serious. These turned out to be quite prophetic words as the afternoon rolled on.
By mid afternoon, we all felt we were flagging. You do at that time of day, especially when you’ve done an intensive course on your 2 rest days. I was coming down with a bug anyway as I’d had a headache yesterday and felt my concentration lapsing today. I was getting those Homer Simpson moments, when his attention starts to wander. As we were doing some leg splints, we noticed that the guys at the front of the room were doing some more advanced casualty moving. Katherine was the casualty this time, and Gillian, who was there signing for a guy called Jamie and helping out too, was moving her.
Strangely, it took us a while to realise that she had really collapsed. More worringly, it took us a few more minutes to realise that we all felt a bit odd. Then, suddenly, we were all out as it was clearly something in the room. As it was above a swimming pool and next to a plant room, chlorine was suspected and 999 dialled. Even at this point, we suspected it was a scenario, but i think we *hoped* it was rather than really believed that.
We all had to look after each other in the next few hours, with some others needing oxygen and all of us going to the hospital Ysbytty Gwynedd for a check out. We all had headaches, but only some of us were really ill. I just felt hungry (again). Four ambulances, three fire engines, two police cars and a break down truck (don’t know what that had to do with it!) attended and it was dealt with as a major incident at the Hospital. Had we not been in a well ventilated room, then it might certainly have been a major incident – as it turned out to be carbon monoxide poisoning.
Katherine was kept in overnight, as she’d been worst affected, but I talked to her tonight and she feels a lot better. I was going to keep names out of this entry, but as the story appears to have made the national papers (well, The Sun), I decided that it was in the public domain anyway. I’ll need to renew my first aid course in three years, and I’ll definately go back to Active First Aid then. When you attend a course like this and attendees have travelled 3 to 4 hours to be on it, you know that it’s going to be good. It left me with the desire to learn more about the subject, and to definately sort out my woefully inadequate mountain first aid kit (I’ll list it on here for comments once i’ve put one together). I’d be very interested in an advanced, bolt on to this course. A second weekend where we could hone the skills further. But, for now, if i do come across someone with a broken ankle, or a bleeding arm on the hill; I’d feel quite confident in administering first aid once my kit consists of more than 4 plasters, a tube of lucozade glucose tablets and some Rennies (unless they’ve cut their finger and suffer chronic heartburn!)
Thought for the day – Check out your Carbon Monoxide alarm, make sure it works.
Active First Aid
Carbon Monoxide Awareness Carbon Monoxide Poisoning BBC