I’ve wanted to brush up on my first aid skills ever since being involved in an incident a few years ago. I came upon a motorcycle accident before police, fire, or EMS arrived. I jumped out to help as I could, and was able to administer first aid to the downed bikers.
I was surprised at how much first aid I remembered, I was also dismayed by how much I had forgotten.
Since that day I’ve been trying to take some first aid courses. It’s been hard to find them or then to find one that worked into my schedule.
So when this guest spot came up, I was happy to finally be able to take a course.
Dynamic First Aid
The class was focused on more major first aid skills used to try to keep people alive until they can get under more “advanced” care be it from EMT’s or to a hospital. You are the first responder, so what can you do to keep them alive. Topics like cuts and bruises, bug bites, bee stings, etc. were not the focus of this course. The big things covered were bleeding from things like punctures or blunt force trauma, issues of dehydration and heat stroke.
But it went beyond just “here the guy is bleeding, here’s how to apply a tourniquet” or “here’s how to pack a wound”. One of the key issues Caleb stressed with us was “scene safety”. When you come upon a scene, you need to ensure it’s safe. You may not know what happened, but whatever happened could have caused or could cause again the scene to be unsafe. Downed power line? fire? debris? If you’re on the side of the road, could there be more cars rushing past you? if the person was mauled by a bear, could the bear still be in the area? someone was shot, is the bad guy still around? And then to ensure while you are working to NOT get task-fixated, because the scene could become dangerous. Make sure YOU can go home. This is the first time I’ve heard such a topic discussed in a first aid course, and it’s a welcome topic.
We learned a great deal about how to help manage bleeding. Why so much focus on this? Well, the interesting thing. As gun folk we’re always worried about gunshot wounds. Caleb made a good point: how many gunshot wounds have you encountered this week? this month? this year? OK, now how about car accidents? Bleeding, shock, far more common to deal with. Even more so? dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke.
The last points are one of Caleb’s big issues? Why? Because they can kill you, and they are so preventable. Living here in Texas, we all deal with heat issues on a regular basis. We all must know the signs, we all must know how to prevent, we all must know then how to help someone else if the signs manifest themselves. The biggest thing? Drink water. A lot. A lot more than you think. For someone my size, I should drink a gallon of water a day — and that’s just sitting at my desk doing nothing all day. Wife? drink about half a gallon. Don’t forget to consume electrolytes too; if you’re at the office all day, eating regular meals, you’re probably ok. Out working in the heat all day? For every 2 waters, drink 1 “sports drink” (Powerade, Gatorade, etc.). This is so preventable.
There’s much more to the class than these basic topics. Things you cannot learn from reading a book or a blog. You have to attend a course and have a knowledgeable teacher watching and helping you. Caleb constantly put our learning to the test by having us participate in scenarios — role playing, a sort of “medical force-on-force”. He’s set up a scene, then you come upon it with a medical bag (that we had to put together), and now you have to do everything. Like most role-playing-based training, the intent is to not only help you reinforce the skills you’re learning, but give you a chance to make your mistakes HERE and not when it really matters. These scenarios are a crucial part of the class and learning.
I’m happy I took the course. It was one of the best Saturday’s I’ve had in a long time. Time very well spent.
Oh sure, I love all the gun stuff. But on a daily basis? I’m going to use medical knowledge more often. If we want to truly be prepared, having basic first aid knowledge is vital.
Caleb’s approach here works to give you a plan. A plan to be prepared (e.g. a proper first aid kit). A plan of what to do when you arrive at the scene (scene safety, how to approach the scene, how to approach the person, how to assess and deal with the situation). And then, the skills needed to do something about it.
I was surprised at some of the approaches Caleb spoke about. I know that medical knowledge changes and this is why what you learned 20 years ago may not apply any longer. The data on tourniquets has changed from when I was in Boy Scouts, and I was happy to see how the knowledge has worked to simplify and improve process. It minimizes the amount of decision making required under the stress of the situation, and allows you to just take care of business as quickly and effectively as possible. This updating of my knowledge was most useful.
I also appreciated Caleb as an instructor. It’s evident he knows what he’s talking about. If you paid attention to how he spoke, you could discern he was well-versed and experienced in this realm, but he knew the focus and audience of his class and would work to present things in a manner relevant to the audience. As a former teacher of public speaking, I know the importance of knowing your audience and tailoring your message to them. It’s not that Caleb dumbed things down, it was a matter of crafting an appropriate message. I thought he did this quite well.
Another thing I appreciated about him was his willingness to be truly open. He wasn’t afraid to say when he didn’t know or if there just wasn’t yet an answer that medical science had come up with. You could tell he was willing to try and experience with gear or techniques until they found the right one that worked best. Best of all? At the end of class he went around the room asking for not just what we got out of the class, but what he could do better. He SOUGHT criticism. He doesn’t just want his horn tooted, he wants to become better. If there’s a problem, he wants to fix it. You have to respect that, not just in terms of running a business, but as a person. He also encouraged us to seek additional training — with other trainers.
I came out of the class with a laundry list of things to buy to beef up my first aid kits, and a desire to not just practice what I learned but to learn more. Need to make first aid training a regular part of my continuing education. And hearing what some of the other Lone Star Medic courses are? Oh, I’d love to take them.
Thank you, Caleb.
Updated: Dave Re attended the Sunday edition of the class. He just posted his AAR. He touched on a lot of points that I forgot to mention. Seems that we both got a lot of the same out of the class.
And yes… it’s time to go shopping.