Two Strikes And You’re Out

This past Thursday and Saturday we studied emergency medical operations and disaster medical operations in the CERT class that I’m taking.  We were issued a fanny pack and emergency supplies to keep in them (nitrile gloves, 4×4’s, cling bandages, scissors, triangular bandages, face shield, flashlight, etc). 

In particular, we spent a lot of time on triage during disaster medical operations.  The idea is to quickly assess someone for one of the three killers (obstructed airway, uncontrolled bleeding, shock) and classify them as either I (Immediate treatment needed), D (Delayed treatment), or Dead.  In particular, we are instructed to try twice to clear an airway and if the person doesn’t resume breathing to classify them as dead and move on.  At first, this seemed harsh, and it will be a tough thing to do.  But when you really think about it, it makes sense. 

You have to consider that this protocol is for dealing with a disaster situation where the system is overwhelmed and you’re likely to be the only person with any kind of training.  The skills we’re learning are only rudimentary, so we won’t have the ability to perform any kind of advanced lifesaving.  Further, the idea of disaster medical training is to do the most good for the most number of people.  If someone is not breathing in this situation, studies have shown that this person will likely die even with advanced lifesaving techniques.  Given all this, there isn’t anything you could do for them so you should move on to someone else who you could potentially help.

While I’m glad to have some training (i.e. knowing what to do is half the battle), I just hope I never have to get into a situation where I have to make this kind of decision.

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