Quite frankly I thought the spurting blood was a bit much, and even though I KNEW it wasn’t real, it still made me stand back for a second. I’d been told that the person around the corner had been injured by a single gun-shot wound but I all I expected was someone lying on the floor. I didn’t expect a person showing an injury. Not that it was real. It was totally fake. It was just make up.
The girl who had been injured was lying on the floor with a pair of cut open combat trousers and a plastic ‘wound’ strapped over her real leg. It was clearly fake, but then she saw me coming, squeezed a bag under her arm and a spurt of ‘blood’ came out of the wound. As I said, it made me stop just for a second.
Then she started screaming and rolling around. And I forgot that we were on a training course. The two and a bit day’s worth of lectures and practical kicked in and I ran forward to treat her ‘injury’.
Straight away I pulled out a CAT – Combat Application Tourniquet – and went to fit it to her leg to stop the bleeding, but she screamed that fitting that would mean she would lose her leg. ‘Sorry’ I said, meaning it ‘But this will save your life. It’s the only way we can be certain that the bleeding will stop.’
And after a few minutes of me doing all the good things we had been taught in the drills I was sitting there staring at a medic assessor who said, ‘Yeah, that was good. The MERT Helicopter is on it’s way what will you say as part of the handover of the casualty?’
I read off my note pad a list of things they’d need to know and the medic was happy. ‘Pass’ he said and asked for my signature on the paperwork he had been ticking as I had worked on the casualty. I am now a ‘Team Medic’.
But what does this mean? All members of the Armed Forces do an annual First Aid lesson and some have to do a test – but it is all very basic…this is just the next qualification up. It looks at taking the normal first aid stuff we do every year and adding just a bit more – still at a basic level, no drugs or IV’s or mechanical airways or anything like that. It gives us a few more skills on how to deal with the overall situation that combat injuries bring. Particularly in Afghanistan, where it is all about stabilising a casualty and then preparing them for the Medical teams that will come steaming in on the Chinook.
At it’s very basic Team Medic is just about keeping an injured guy (or girl) alive until the real medics arrive. And it gives me another string to my bow. As we often say it’s another tool to have in the toolbox.
But the big difference this time is that THIS First Aid is not one that we can learn and dump. We need to keep it up-to-date and practising the skills – just in case we need them for real, and God knows I hope we don’t…I hope I don’t, but if I do, I will have a bit more knowledge and a few more skills to help to try and keep someone alive if the very worst happens.