Diary of a First Aid trainee: What If…

On March 4th, 2013, posted in: Featured, First Aid, News, Service, Students by

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It’s a little known fact that if a diabetic is in a coma, first aid for them constitutes simply rubbing something sugary, such as jam or syrup, onto the diabetic’s gums.  After our second week of First Aid, this seems almost painfully obvious, especially since diabetics  become comatose if their blood sugar levels are low.  Yet, using this simple treatment would never have naturally occurred to me in an emergency.  One second of that type of breathtaking panic, one moment of thoughtless action, and a patient can be as good as dead.

There is one utterly inescapable constant that will lock itself deep within your brain if you are becoming a First-Aider:  the acronym.  This mystical creation seems to have developed a meaningful  bond with First Aid.  As we delved into the pile of medical conditions before us – conditions including diabetic comas, external bleeding, burns and seizures- acronyms came up time and time again.  It seemed all too easy to relax into the security they gave us.  They were so much nicer, and easier, to learn than long complicated explanations.

However, the truth was just as inescapable as those pesky acronyms.  “You have to think ‘What if’!” our instructor informed us.  It wasn’t about whether we’d pass the First Aid test or not, but whether, in one of those “what if” moments, we would save our patient.  We had to know what to do in so many different situations: we couldn’t just learn anything half-heartedly.  Acronyms help, but at the end of the day, we’d be the ones remembering how to treat our patients.  A video we watched was a harsh reminder of this, as we saw CPR fail because of a basic mistake: it’s impossible to do successful CPR on a hill, and the paramedics at hand had tried to.  Their patient died because of it.

Everyone fears those unknowns, those “what if” moments.  There is no absolute cure that can ease those fears, not until you are in one of those situations yourself.  Luckily, though, there was still a way to subdue my worry a little: the method didn’t require too much energy: it could even be done in a spare moment or two.  It was time to hit the books.

– Nicole Wentzel