PATC Wilderness First Aid Weekend…Rain, Guys and Gore!

Wilderness First Aid?  Should I do this? Do I need this?

The contemplation of taking this class initially worried me a little bit…what if I was trying to help someone and I hurt them instead?  When it comes to blood and guts I am not squeamish, in fact my curiosity takes over and I actually like it…not that I want anyone to be in that state…but if I came upon someone that had, say, major wounds I am okay with dealing with it in a calm manner.  So if a counselor is needed, I feel I could talk down a patient and keep them calm…BUT…my confidence for being able to actually HELP medically …um…um…well, I could assist them in dying with dignity.

Recognizing this shortcoming in myself meant I needed to do something about it.  So should I do this?  Yes.  Biting my bottom lip and furrowing my brow, I completed the online registration and clicked “Submit”.  Submit, yes, submitting. Submitting to the unknown, the scary, the idea that now I would be truly responsible for helping in a medical emergency out on the trail.  I submitted.

And I DO need this!  I am a hike leader for the Trail Dames of Maryland with basic first aid and CPR.  I need more training.  My desire to keep the Dames safe supersedes my fear that I could do something wrong.

Well, there it is.  I felt like I would do it wrong.  It is that fear that has kept me from so many things.  I have to overcome the fear of failure in order to do every single little thing in my life.  I stayed out of college for far too long because I was afraid to fail (I didn’t), in a partnership with someone for far to long because I feared I couldn’t do it on my own (I was wrong) AND feared I would screw up my kids life (nope, he is awesome)…and here I was again, facing down the fear of failure.  But I did it!! Yay! 🙂 🙂

So off I went Saturday morning to the Emergency Response Training Center.  It was raining. It was cold.  oh joy.  I dressed in layers and rain gear taking my orange Osprey day pack filled with goodies for the day.  I got there with no problem and found coffee cake and coffee! Nice welcome!  Saleena and Dave DeVore, our fearless leaders for the day, welcomed all of us and after initial introductions started instruction. But let me just stop here to say that I WAS THE ONLY FEMALE!!!

Why do I need to say that? Because it matters to me and that is reason enough.  I didn’t mind too much…but felt that at least on one of the training activities I was singled out to be a scout because the designated “leader” didn’t think me capable of carrying the litter.  Saleena turned to me and said “They always do that, they always single out the women.”  I told her that it pissed me off until I saw they had to carry the litter (with patient) down a steep, muddy, slippery hill complete with obstacle they had to go under with patient and litter.  Yeah, go to it guys…knock yourselves out…and you know what? I am secretly hash tagging you, leader guy. 😉

The first day of training ended with a first aid kit shake down that was pretty funny and emasculating!  Very informative and I learned a great deal from Saleena about what is “really” needed and what can be left at home.  Bottom line…my kit needed a little bolstering. Especially for a hike leader!  I added a SAM splint and an emergency blanket with plans on adding better width ace bandage and a variety of other little updates.

The funniest item to add to the kit came on day two when we discussed bleeding.  Saleena asked us what we could use out of our packs to use as a dressing.  Typical answers like bandanas, socks and cotton shirts were thrown out.  Then Saleena whips out a post partum maternity pad out of her kit…oh, the looks on a few of the guys faces!!!!! Too funny, and WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!

The second day ended with a culminating activity to reinforce what we had learned during the previous 48 hours.  Three victims were placed in the woods along the trail.  They had a variety of life threatening injuries as they had been “attacked by a bear”.  My patient had been impaled by a stick (through the stomach), and the bear had taken a chunk out of her arm and shoulder.  Just for kicks they threw in that she was diabetic.  It was tough to think under pressure and not get caught up in the most obvious injury!  Afterward, we had a breakout session to discuss what went right and what could have gone better.  It was a great experience!

I come away feeling more confident for sure and would recommend everyone who hikes to get this training!

My next step is to peruse YouTube to learn more and to practice!! In addition, I am planning to act as a victim for upcoming WFA trainings because I think there is a lot to learn in that role as well…and being covered in blood and guts…how fun!

Hike On!