I have taken many first aid classes over the years, everything from 4-hour CPR to the Coast Guard 80-hour Medical Person-In-Charge. I was even a Coast Guard/Red Cross approved instructor. What else could I learn?
It had been a while since I participated in a First Aid class. I’ve had many of them so I didn’t think I would learn anything knew. I probably knew it all and it would just be a waste of time. It wasn’t.
Real life fact number one: If you don’t use it, you lose it.
There’s a whole lot of things that fit into the statement above but I’ll stay focused on my first aid experience. Fractures, sprains, splints bleeding, PPE, evacuation, etc. How much can be fit into a three-day course? Enough to make me realize I probably forgot more than I remembered. Kat and I spend a good deal of time hiking on trails where we aren’t likely to see other people. Cell phone service, and the help and security it provides, is many times not available here.
There are certain skills that we all should have. Being an internet influencer isn’t one of them. Everyone should know how to swim. Everyone should know how to give basic first aid treatment either to themselves or someone else. Everyone should know CPR. Looking back, I didn’t learn any of this in school. (OK Maritime is different, before Maritime). It’s been my experience they don’t teach this stuff in schools, if you’ve learned it came from somewhere else. If you learned it a long time ago you probably forgot how to use it.
See real life fact number one above.
Real life fact number two: Its not 19?? anything anymore. The facts and norms of society change.
This is the first first-aid class I’ve taken where there was an extensive discussion on drug overdose and the use of NARCAN (Naloxone). Many of us live in bubbles that protect us from most of the nastiness of the world. We hang out with people who think like us, look like us, are educated like us. Its comforting, we don’t have to deal or think about those who might not be as lucky, wealthy, insulated as we are.
The reality is that drug overdoses are a real and growing tragedy. CDC data says that in 1999 there were 16,849 deaths by overdose. In 2019 the number had risen to 70,630. 2021 is estimated to be substantially higher. Draw your own conclusions here. You are much more likely to have to deal with an overdose than a bear attack or lightening strike.
PPE was also given a much greater emphasis. I suppose with the on-set of HIV PPE became a regular part of first-aid training. Add COVID, hepatitis and the question becomes: do you give aid if you are not able to protect yourself first? Would you let someone bleed out because latex gloves weren’t in your first aid kit?
Real Life Fact number three- Review classes do not have to be boring
I kind of knew this was going to be a good class when the instructor introduced himself as “Wild Bill.” Despite the masks and social distancing requirements Bill and his partner, Lady Louise, both very experienced EMT’s and volunteer responders, made the old material and the new to me material interesting. There were just enough sea stories to make the point, and I know about sea stories.
The class itself was pretty age diverse ranging from 18-years old to me. Mostly much younger than me, a scene that seems to be playing out more and more in the things I get into lately. The class was involved and talkative. A gift from God to the instructor. Nothing is worse than a group of manikins for a class.
Moral of the story?
Nothing stays the same. Don’t stop learning or re-learning. If you can find an instructor named Wild Bill, take his course.