Medical Assistance in Challenging Environments

Running a First Aid in Remote Locations course- insiders view- Day One

Life as a casualty- Running a First Aid in Remote Locations- Day Zero & Day One.

The journey…

Time to commence the three or so hour journey up to Evesham, so with a car full of kit, myself, Alistair and Kelly the journey begins. Unfortunately I forgot my road trip Spice Girls album for us to have a sing along too so the radio it is. We are all looking forward to the course ahead. Talk of the course fills most of our journey, wondering what the weather is going to be like and how the delegates will get on and the scenarios that we need to run.

It’s late and dark by the time we arrive to our hotel so we grab our bags out of the car and head to check into our hotel. I quickly discovered that I’m staying in the themed Africa room and Kelly is in the Egypt themed room, the locations course for us really couldn’t have started in a much better way. I unpacked what I require and put the kettle on a little bit of television and a tea then I drift slowly off to sleep surrounded by many a stuffed teddy and leopard print.

egypt room on locations

Day one ..

Woken by the alarm at 7:15  after not a great sleep in Africa.. Must be the wild animals on the loose that filled my dreams or the excitement of the day ahead. Grab a shower and get in my Lazarus kit to meet Alistair and Kelly for breakfast at 8, again talk of the course the first few scenarios and how we expect day one to run and what we need to do etc when we arrive at the venue fills the breakfast table.

Erghhhh traffic… the last thing we wanted on the way to the venue but still we have time (although a tad rushed) and the sun is shining good news for Kelly and I as today the casualty stuff consists mainly of floor work.

We arrive at the venue, straight through to reception and ID passes are given,  but we have to wait to be shown to our room, last thing we wanted as were already a little pushed for time, but we ponder over who can grab what and the best way to set up the room quickly. Some of the delegates start to arrive, even though I  normally play casualty the nerves start to set in at the course time grows nearer.

We head over to our classroom which will be the main hub for the next three days, we help Alistair unload the car and set up the class room, and quickly hide ourselves after grabbing the casualty simulation kit and other props that are required. We unpack most of the kit laying out what is required for each of the scenarios and in an attempt to make things go as smoothly also to keep our ‘dressing room’  as tidy as we can for the next few days.

With the kit required for the first demonstration in hand we head up the track, it’s steeper than I remember or I haven’t spent as much time in the gym as perhaps I should have! I talk Kelly through what will happen and how the demo will work, whilst we await Alistair’s call across the radio to let us know he is on his way. On this particular scenario the airway is blocked.  So I want to leave it till the very last moment,  as I know that I will have the obstruction in my mouth for some time and actually I find this particular scenario harder than the screaming ones! The call comes across and the anxiety grows as I take a gulp of blood to obstruct my airway. Set in position I wait in anticipation for them to gather round me, and spend what feels like a life time listening for the magic words where I can pretty much try (blindly) to cover as many of the delegates with the contence of my mouth,. Unfortunately it was an unsuccessful attempt this time but I make it my mission to at least get one of them covered by the end of the day. Who will it be!

After a little debrief out in the woods and many a wasp trying to join our group we all head back to the class room for some fun with the tourniquets and other class room based activities

When Alistair gives us the nod its time for us to leave the class room to go and prep for the next scenario.  Kelly is going to give this one a go. No acting required here so a nice one to ease her into, we make her face up.

casualty remote course

Kelly looking rather peaky…

 

remote course grey face

Kelly unresponsive on the floor. The delegates slowly approach once again with their  arms  folded or hands in the pockets all hoping that the person next to them will one who wants to assist.

After some talking and lots of standing around one of the delegates steps forward to give Kelly so first aid

remote course breathing check

 

As this is a remote course the options for calling for help are discussed from how long would help take to which telephone number the delegates would call from their location. The scenario is wrapped up shortly after and we return to the classroom.

Time for lunch, luckily for us the food is absolutely amazing at the venue,  so after filling our belly’s its time to go and prepare for the next “trauma” lesson.

casualty simulation

After lots of giggling from myself and Kelly and lots of trying to arrange the outfit as I’m the size of a small child and clearly these were designed for an adult male. So with some adjustments of the wounds and cutting clothing to expose the more obvious injuries it’s time to grab the Vaseline and sticky blood to add some gore to the guts! We fill the blood pump and make the connections for wounds that need to bleed and head off outside to position ourselves for the scene.

We wait for Alistair to come across the radio to let us know he is on his way. Again this is a group demonstration/ scenario, however is the first scenario that the delegates will have a responsive casualty who will act to the injury’s that they have sustained,  slowly easing them into the course. As soon as I hear that they are near I start with the moaning and groaning and calling for help whilst struggling to breath.  The delegates walk around the corner anxiously, with some “eww’ ‘That’s horrible” “oh dear” comments they all managed to make their way and stand in front of me.  Still in acting mode I start asking them to help me, Alistair talks through the demonstrations stating that its not the most obvious injury that could be killing me, hoping that they will have a rummage and see what they can find. Still heavy laboured and struggling to breath I sit in front of them asking them to help me,  a couple of the delegates step forward to help after a little nudge from Alistair they start to check for further injury’s, and they find it! Great!! As soon as they treat it I can breath normally. We wrap up the scenario and go over the first aid kit and what, if anything they have in the bag that they could use to help treat these particular injury’s.

Time for tea!!

Whilst the delegates head back to the canteen to grab a well deserved brew Kelly and myself go into our dressing room and prepare for the last scenario.

And whilst the delegates are away from the classroom it’s a perfect opportunity to make up 5 litres of blood…  Catastrophic bleed is the next and last scenario  on the agenda.  I love this one- I can really give it some with my acting skills!

leg injury remote course

We make our way outside and set up, Alistair comes across the radio and he is heading out with the delegates this will be the first scenario where they will come out in pairs and actually have to treat the casualty themselves with no assistance from Alistair. As soon as I spot them I start screaming as loud as I possibly can and pump the blood out of my leg in rate with my heart, at this point the delegates start running toward me first aid kit in hand. my superhero’s ready to come and save my life! By the time the third group come around I’m sure they would have heard most of what was going on around the corner my leg is starting to ache and my throat is starting to hurt! They all get through six groups of two. Each and ever group were fantastic, it’s so great to see them come such a long way by the end of day one some of them had not even held a tourniquet before and now there under pressure covered in blood trying to apply one in a stressful environment and each and every group managed to “save my life”

We wrap up and briefly cover shock from blood loss.  And this is where day one finishes, on a high for not only us but them too I hope. Back to the teddy bare hotel for us for a swim in the lovely pool, more amazing food and an over night stay in Africa!