Saturday, September 19, 2009

training and prevention

It's over. The training part of the conference, that is. For two days we bashed windows and pried doors on cars and trucks. We sawzalled our way through steel walls and roofs, and moved all kinds of metal in all different directions. One instructor spent the whole two days teaching students how to demolish a car with an air chisel. If the students learned half as much as I did, the weekend was a smashing success.

Sometimes we put someone inside the car to play the role of the patient. Often it's an instructor. Twice today it was me. At first glance it looks like this poor person is missing all the fun, but don't be fooled. You get a unique, insider's perspective on the extrication process, with all the noises, smells, and anxiety that accompany it. If I'm worried about these people cutting off my ear with a sawzall, or snipping my toe with the Jaws, imagine what a real patient in a real crash feels like. Every rescuer should submit themselves to this experience at least once. Kind of like the cops having to be pepper-sprayed before they're allowed to use the stuff on anyone else. Well, maybe not quite like that, but there are parallels.

The person that breaks a tempered glass window hears some noise. The person inside the car hears an explosion. The guy cutting a post with the sawzall feels the vibrations running up his arms and into his shoulders. The person inside feels the whole vehicle shudder and quake enough to measure several points on the Richter Scale. If nothing else we learn a little compassion and empathy for the folks that we rescue.

Perhaps we should make a deal with the traffic violations people to have offenders assigned to participate in vehicle extrication training . . . as trapped patients. Some of these folks might benefit from a unique, insider's view of what it's like to have a car torn apart while you sit helplessly waiting for someone to strap you on a backboard. Hey, I'm serious here. It would be real, nitty-gritty education that isn't nearly as likely to put you to sleep as watching a video on drinking and driving. Just a thought.

Speaking of education and videos,
here is a short, slightly humourous clip on the benefits of sprinklers. Again, I'm serious . . . the ounce of prevention is definitely worth a ton of the cure, especially when you're talking about fire.

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