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April 27, 2019: Woofers One, Woofers All, Woofers we are, Make the Call

This was the rallying call at 3 p.m. today, when the six of us taking the semester-long wilderness first responder first aid course learned that we all passed. I was maybe the most surprised – I did not expect to pass. Dorothy said that no one has ever failed before but my thought was that I might be the first.

Pete and I got lucky. We did study and we did practice trauma and medical scenarios. And I sat in on the WEMT class. But the icing on the cake was this – yesterday we practiced a scenario in which the victim, that is both of us, one at a time, had a dislocated shoulder and a sprained ankle. And this morning, while driving to the college (where our class is held) I read off the mid-term exam questions and both Pete and I attempted to answer this.

And so, what were the odds of this? First of all, the practical exam was based upon the patient having a dislocated shoulder and sprained ankle. And many of the written exam questions were from the midterm. This made the day just a tad bit less challenging than it might have been.

Alys the victim with a femur fracture splint
Alys the victim

We took the exam early this morning. I was both not yet fully awake and feeling jittery about the day’s events, which were also to include a group scenario. So as it turned out, I missed four out of fifty questions. Mine may have been the lowest grade in the class. No matter, my score was respectable. As for the practical, I did okay. Our patients were our classmates, which I suppose was less stressful than the alternative, which would have been outside individuals. I pretty much knew what to do and what order to follow – my patient, John, gave me clues; for example, he reminded me his shoulder was dislocated when he saw that I was just going to bandage it up. I needed to first relocate it.

In the afternoon we did a group mock scenario – there were six of us rescuers and four victims. They’d been in a car wreck up on the Haul Road and were still in the car. There was one victim outside the car, wandering around – I immediately decided to assist him because I knew that this would involve the least amount of group interaction. What I should have done, and what my classmates should have done, was first confer with Pete, who was the Incident Command, or group leader. Instead, I stuck with my patient. Yes, I did make some mistakes – for example, I forgot to mobilize his spine and I did not address the matter of his having detached retinas.

Ahh, but here is the catch – in all the scenarios and particularly this one, I made mistakes. If you are to make mistakes, this is the time and place because the odds are such that you won’t make them when you are called upon to help one or several individuals in distress.

I said to Pete after that I wish that we’d have the opportunity to keep practicing because this is an instance in which feedback is very immediate.

Now it’s late. I’m very tired, but of course I’m relieved to have passed. I also said to Pete earlier today that a life without challenges is more boring and less fulfilling than a life with challenges.

Next: 116. 4/28/19: Tripping

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