Thursday, March 30, 2017

Long day, yesterday

'Twas a very long day, yesterday. After a full day of work, I immediately traveled to the Middlesex County Fire Academy for our CERT class on catastrophic bleeding control. To say that it was eye opening and intense would be an understatement. But of all the CERT training sessions that I have attended, this one was by far the best. No competition, there.

Our instructors included an EMT who works with Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Newark, NJ. That right there caused the needle on the "Impressed Meter" to go off the scale.  Another was an EMT who used to be in the Air Force and did two tours in the Mid East as a Casualty Evacuation Corpsman. (I was mentally debating, "Which is safer - Newark or Iraq?) The third instructor was an EMT who works with the NJ Medical Reserve Unit and he specializes in S&R and Wilderness Emergency Treatment.  We were in good hands for the evening. Very, very good hands.

The instructors taught us in the proper deployment and use of tourniquets, as well as how to pack a wound with both regular gauze and gauze treated with coagulant materials in order to control or stop hemorrhagic bleeding.  We also learned how to dress sucking chest wounds and how to do quick assessments for catastrophic injuries in the field.
The job for our trainers was difficult.  It had to be no nonsense, in order to impress upon us the need for speed, clear headed thinking, and acting upon a really bad situation without freezing or choking up.  But yet, they manged to keep the session light enough that we were not frightened by the task before us. These guys were the best, hands down.

As a CERT volunteer, sometimes you get the feeling that you're considered somewhat as "an outsider" by the local police and fire personnel.  They know their jobs, they do them well, and it can be very apparent that they consider CERT to be unnecessary; or just a bother, in their eyes.   I have to say that out of all the training that I have received so far, the guys last night, and the people from Homeland Security, who gave us our AuxComm training, were definitely different in that regard. Last night we were treated ......... what's the word I'm looking for .......... seriously - very seriously.  In their eyes, we CERT volunteers were just as valuable to them as any regular police or fire officer, or EMT.

I guess when you're in a situation where three minutes can make the difference between life or death, the gentlemen who taught us last night were very happy to have some good eyes, hands and minds out there in the field.  At the end of the evening, each of us were issued an IFAK - and Individual First Aid Kit, complete with supplies needed to make that difference.  I pray I'll never be in that situation where I have to implement it; but if I am, I'm pretty darned confident that I now know enough to save someone's life, if it comes to that.

Kudos to our three instructors and the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management for last evening.  We hope we'll make you proud.

As an aside, when I got home at 9:45 PM, my Harold was sitting in the bay window, faithfully waiting for me. What a good doggie; and just the thing to come home to after a very long day!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

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