Wednesday, November 25, 2015

St John Ambulance volunteer - Level 1 Event Officer (part 2)

After completing my St John Ambulance volunteer induction night and First Aid training course a few months ago, I found myself overwhelmed with uni work. I put off doing the Level 1 training until after exams, and managed to squeeze myself into the course at the very last minute. 2 days after my last uni exams, I headed off to attend a 2.5 day training course (much to Rob's dismay).

Training takes place at the St John Ambulance headquarters in Belmont. It's quite a large building with little sub-buildings surrounding it so keep an eye out for this building:

There's plenty of free parking on the side road. Training took place on a weekend and Monday night, it's a good idea to bring your own lunch and snacks as it's a good 10minute walk to the nearest food outlet.

On the intranet, there are plenty of prereading and videos to watch, with 7 modules to cover over 2.5 days:

Level 1 Module 1 Patient assessment and vital signs
Level 1 Module 2a Ambulance Equipment
Level 1 Module 3 Oxygen & Equipment
Level 1 Module 4 CPR & Defibrillation
Level 1 Module 5 Spinal Care Awareness
Level 1 Module 6 Basic Medication Awareness
Level 1 Module 7 Introduction to Triage

The reading material is overwhelming (some of the modules are like 50-70 pages) and since I'd just finished exams, I really couldn't be bothered/didn't have time to do much reading.

We had 2 very capable and knowledgeable paramedics run the course, they were super lovely. The whole course was extremely practical and hands-on, which was both good and bad. Good in that we weren't stuck at a desk having to memorize things, bad in the sense we had to absorb things quite quickly (for those who didn't quite get around to doing their pre-reading.....)

The majority of the course was a more indepth and thorough breakdown of DRSABCD - Danger, Response, Send for help, Airway, Breathing, CPR, Disability. We learnt how to use BVMs (Bag Valve Mask) and oxygen equipment. We practiced using stretchers and loading dummies into the ambulance. CPR was the big order of the day as we spent countless minutes on our knees pumping chests and shocking our dummy patients.

We also learnt how to take vital signs - respiratory rate, pulse, blood sugar levels. Putting it all together with expected normal levels for adults/children, using the AVPU test (Alert, Vocal, Pain, Unresponsive) and GCS.

We learnt how to take motorcycle helmets off, use C-spine collars for suspected spinal patients, scoops and boards.

Basically, there is quite a lot of content to cover so the course does warrant a 2.5 day duration - something which put me off doing it initially (a whole weekend!!)

On the final night, we are introduced to the basic medication kit and then work in teams to attend a practice scenario. As the attending officer, I am suitably freaked out when I find my dummy patient slumped unconscious against a toilet ... I forget "S" - send for help, and after checking airway and breathing, my brain goes blank and I forget I have to do CPR!

The backup team arrives (thank goodness!) so we have enough hands to move the dummy patient onto a canvas carry bag while administering CPR and oxygen. It's pump-pump-pump, lift and move the patient for 8s, back down and pump-pump-pump again (we can only withhold CPR for 10 seconds max). So it's a slow move to the stretcher and ambulance outside. We finally make it, do the transfer and we all pile into the back of the ambulance (all 5 of us). The ambulance drives around while we continue CPR. It feels like quite a real simulation to me, nerve-wracking and something that I hope I won't ever have to do.

It has been a really enjoyable course. Trainers were fantastic, attendees were friendly and attentive - people who volunteer their time usually have a lot of empathy for others. I'm looking forward to attending some events as an Event Health Officer.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cramming for uni exams

My very last exams for uni are over ... I can close my books and files, let go of the last leg muscles - tibialis anterior, gastrocnemius, soleus, fibularis longus - ligaments of the knee and ankle ... anterior talofibular ... function of the meniscus

The Functional Anatomy exam is a 2-hour wet lab exam, I'm freezing and my hands are numb at the end of it. Good bye building 404.

Finally, Human Structure Function is another 2-hour exam in the morning. 120 multiple-choice questions later, I emerge from the Curtin Stadium with 600 other students, drained ... and have the urge to do a mad dash across the oval.

It takes me a while to recover. When I get home, I run around the house sweeping, mopping, cleaning. It feels like I have quite a bit of pent-up energy to release, but also I haven't done any housework for a while!

The next 2 days I just slowly unwind, treat myself to a massage, have a haircut. It feels strange not to have my head filled with constant study. I'm relieved, and slowly relaxed. But I'm sure it won't be long before I get bored and bounce back into something.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

St John Ambulance volunteer - first aid course (part 1)

I really enjoy volunteering, it makes me feel like a part of the community and it keeps me busy! My last volunteer event was in February at the Heart Actually Charity Gala.

In the middle of the year, I was feeling restless, I hadn't started TAFE or uni, so I decided to check out volunteering at St John Ambulance. There are different roles you can apply for, such as support roles or patient transfer services or event health. I wasn't really sure what all the different roles were, so I signed up for Event Health Services.

After providing my details and getting a police clearance, I was accepted as a St John Ambulance (SJA) volunteer in May. I then had to attend an SJA induction course and a First Aid course (you can check out all their first aid courses here).

The course was a good overview of basic first aid, the presenter was really funny and we got to practice CPR on our own mannequin ("Rescue Annie")

It was a worthwhile course, as you never know when it might come in handy and you could do your own bit to help someone. Stay tuned for further adventures in SJA ...


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