Sunday, March 30, 2008


Oh how one weekend can change your life. Last week I was a mere first aid provider, able to help if needed but on a limited, Samaritan basis. Now, after a mere 20 hours, I'm a certified Wilderness First Aid provider, legally obligated to provide assistance wherever I believe it is due, and trained in splinting, traction, basic examination, and CPR, to be performed if i'm further than a 1-hour trip from a hospital, and provide information to EMTs and other hospital personnel in the form of a legal document. Crazy, huh? This training is vital for shipboard personnel who will be working with clumsy children on boats, as typically we're anywhere from 2-15 hours from land, let alone emergency care.

How does this training compare to other forms of first aid training i've received in the past?

WFA vs Red Cross First Aid: Heaps more information, more invasive techniques, more responsibility, more focus on resourcefulness, using what's laying around, than using what comes in the ready-packaged first aid box. less focus on industrial accidents, more focus on climbing falls and the forces of nature. Focus on grim reality of the effectiveness of CPR in the field without access to a defibrillator. Proper techniques for moving, lifting, immobilizing, rolling, and transporting people with suspected spinal injuries. Ruling out spinal injury. Triage.

WFA vs Workplace First Aid: see red cross, and then add "call for help, but don't just hang out with the victim until help arrives. They may not be able to get to you. Continue to monitor and record vital signs, figure out how to get the victim(s) to safety as gently and safely as possible." Shipboard, we hauled some people off the deck by tying them to the gantline and flying them to the dock, complete with 6' long femoral traction splints, a deck box lid-turned-backboard, and
lifejackets tied to immobilize the head. Sure beats carrying 'em.

WFA vs Lifeguard Training: less focus on water rescues, but without the whole water thing many of the techniques are the same, just heavier--use the victim's arms as bracing for the head, clear the core before focusing on extremities, always do your best to remain calm. Sensitivities to heat and cold are emphasized. Same emphasis on responsibility, except without the pay-for-safety emphasis on legal liability. Less by the books--backwoods usually means "not equipped with a floating backboard strapped to your chair" so you must rely on your own innovation and resourcefulness. It also means "you may be the only person around who's capable of assisting any number of people, so learn the value of triage. If it comes down to it, dead means dead." Lifeguards always have at least one other lifeguard to call for.

Daunting, no?


Ben said...

You're so much manlier than me, even with the whole woman thing. The closest I'm likely to get to that at my job is editing a book about survival methods.

PartyingMyPants said...

cool deal. i'm also certified in WFA, so i too know all about the ABCD and E's.

as an interesting aside, i was witness to a kid who sustained a femur fracture leaving me in a unique position to tell everyone in the vicinity just how potentially life threatening this diagnosis could be. fortunately the FD was on hand to pull traction themselves...not that i didn't know how to do it, but i'd just assume not.