Friday, August 19, 2016

Writers Police Academy 2016

I am back from Writers Police Academy. What a jam packed couple of days. But I think what will stay with me the most are a couple of workshops I happened into by chance. The first one was in a mock up of a medical facility. I expected a big crowd, but there was just one other woman and me, along with two instructors. Instead of watching some one else do something, this was all hands on.

The first room had a number of practice dummies. I’m not sure what else to call them. They had heads and open chests so that their lungs and stomach were exposed. The instructors demonstrated how they would treat a victim who was having trouble breathing. Then they let us have a try. We “bagged” them first, making sure the dummies tongue was out of the way. But what if they were still not breathing well? We were shown how to intubate a victim. Then it was our turn to try. I used a scope with a camera to find the vocal cords and then I put in the flexible tube with a wire in it. Once in, I pulled the wire out and attached the bag to the tube. As when we “bagged” the victim, we pressed the bag in a rhythmic fashion to get air inside. It was important to watch the dummy’s lungs to see if they were inflating. If the tube is put in wrong, the air can end up in the stomach. I’m pleased to see my dummy’s lungs were breathing just fine.

The next room was set up for learning how to put in an IV. They had a very human looking dummy arm with veins and “blood” for us to work on. I learned how to feel for a vein rather than look for one and then it was time to put in the IV. I got it first try!

But sometimes the situation makes it impossible to put an IV in a vein, so it is placed directly into a bone and the stuff goes into the bone marrow. There were chicken legs for us to practice on. Once I located the bone, I used a small drill to put the tube in. It was kind of weird, but fascinating all the same.

The final thing they had set up for us involved what to do when air has escaped the lungs and is trapped in the chest, which I understand is very painful. A balloon with duct tape stood in for the trapped air. A rack of pork ribs was laid over the balloon. I had to find a space between the bones and then poke a giant needle through the muscle and into the balloon. The duct tape was supposed to keep the balloon from popping and letting the air escape slowly as it would if it was coming from the chest cavity. Mine popped, but got that air out.

I must say it gave me a whole new appreciation of first responders. It’s one thing to do it on a dummy in a quiet place, but out in the field in the middle of an emergency has to be totally different.

The other workshop that stands out was also hands on. This one was all about applying a tourniquet. The instructor was a former military medic and explained how tourniquets had gone from a no-no to something that saved lives. There were more dummies for us to put tourniquets on and then we learned how to put one on ourselves using random things like rags and sticks. There are actually several kits that have straps, Velcro and something to tighten with that are part of kits that soldiers carry meant for their own first aid.

I was surprised at how able I was to put a tourniquet on my own arm. It seems awful to say this, but with all that is happening in the world these days, it could be a skill that comes in handy. It only takes three minutes to bleed out and if someone can apply a tourniquet the clock stops. You have up to six hours before it does any damage to a limb.

What a weekend! There were staged accidents, helicopter rescues, a mock terrorist attack, a service dog, tasers, explosives and a way to kill someone with spaghetti. It is way too much for one blog.

1 comment:

Linda O. Johnston said...

Sounds as if you had a good time! I'm surprised that there was so much about medical care but that's certainly part of what police professionals may need to deal with along with all the rest. It'll be fun to see if you work more of that aspect into your stories.