There have been two full days of Wilderness First Responder training, more affectionately referred to as the WFR (woofer). Last night I came home with a broken clavicle, a fractured ankle and a bruise on my left elbow.
The front of the gym was converted to our classroom with tables set up in a U-shape facing the white board. We listen to lectures by Jono, Stephan or Ann. Jono is a Brit and it’s hard to decide whether we are more entertained by what he says or by how he says it.
After the lectures, half the group is taken outside while the rest of us wait in the gym for the chaos to be arranged.
We grab our sleeping pads, pull on our bright orange protective gloves and race out to the school yard where we find carnage everywhere…. strewn out across the lawn, lodged between the shrubbery or under the bushes. Today we discovered one poor soul had taken a bad fall head first right down the front door steps. It was a mess.
We have learned how to introduce ourselves and ask for the victim’s consent to administer care. We know how to clear the airway, take vital signs and move our victims to a stable location. We have de-crumpled and, when necessary, we used our sleeping pads and water bottles to stabilize a spinal cord injury.
We learned to find a pulse in various places on the body, calculate the heart rate with only six seconds of listening and to determine an injury action plan.
Today, we watched a movie and tested ourselves with dummies that couldn’t breathe. We were told we don’t ever stop giving CPR until the patient recovers or someone as qualified or more qualified than us comes along to take our place.
We talked about the risks of being a Good Samaritan….and, what can happen in the unfortunate event a victim decides to sue us.
There are four pages of medical acronyms and abbreviations we are learning to recognize and, more difficult, to remember to say. Just when you think you can not possibly remember one more thing, we are told to gear up and dash off to another catastrophe where we must remember and perform each of the steps we have just learned…. which, we are reminded, could be an hour or five days’ walk from the front country and the luxury of technology, an ambulance or hospital.
Every topic is intense, every rescue critical. Whatever fun and games we felt on day one has already diminished by day two as the reality of this responsibility sinks into each one of us.
There are seven more days including a river rescue and a nighttime evacuation. Jono told us he was hoping for snow that day.