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First aid for first years?

August 7th, 2008 2 comments

I got an interesting email a few days ago looking for 3rd-5th years (oh boy, that’s me!) who have a valid First Aid certificate and would be happy to help out with teaching first years some first aid. The content is to include:

  • Responsibilities of being a first Aider
  • Personal Safety
  • Regulations and Legislation
  • Action at an emergency
  • Assessing a casualty- primary and secondary survey
  • Recognition and treatment of Hypovolaemic shock
  • Fainting

Not a bad list (although not quite a comprehensive course) and it’s a big improvement from the maybe 30 minutes CPR that has been the norm for the last few years. It’s not clear whether CPR is actually included in the above (primary survey?) or how much will be practical work compared to lecture based.

Because I’m interested in this kind of thing and because I seem to be a tool for volunteering I’ve already agreed to help. Now I just need a timetable…

…ha!

Contemplating

July 29th, 2008 No comments

So recently I’ve been contemplating whether starting my own St Andrew’s Section in the West End would be a good idea or not.

According to the regulations I only need 4 members to start a “Section”. This would be attached to a Company (would I have a say in which one? no idea) and if I achieved 12 members after it year it could become a Company itself. Honestly, I don’t see 4 members being a problem. With some decent effort I don’t even think 12 would be a problem. The problem comes when I try and think about the logistics involved.

  • To hold meetings I’d need some sort of hall. This would involve money, probably around 100 a month.
  • To train I’d need equipment. Equipment costs money. Storage is also a problem
  • New members would need to undergo a full course before being allowed on duty. This cost me 60 to go through (probably not the best deal in the world). Could I pass on some of this onto the applicants?
  • Income probably wouldn’t happen until a number of members were able to go on regular duties.
  • Uniform costs.
  • The time and effort involved, combined with me going into 3rd year, might burn me out.

On the other hand, there are a number of pros:

  • I wouldn’t be annoyed at my current situation any longer
  • I would be leaving a, hopefully successful, Uni society behind when I left. That’s pretty cool as well as looking good on my CV.
  • I might be able to expand upon the training normally provided.
  • There would be a much more social aspect, great for everyone meeting other people, etc.

I’m still not too sure. Theoretically it would be comparable to the LINKS aspect of St John’s ambulance which seems to work well.

At the moment I’m going to wait until I start back again. This way I’d be able to see how much time I’ll have and how much I can get annoyed about my current company.

T in the Park

July 10th, 2008 1 comment

T in the Park 2008 begins tomorrow evening in Balado. I will be joining festivities early on Saturday morning where I will be part of the first aid team onsite. I’m covering the hours of 10am-6pm on both the Saturday and the Sunday. Honestly, I can’t wait.

The atmosphere will be terrific, the bands will be awesome (any bets on whether Amy Winehouse will turn up?) and the first aid requirements are likely to be greater than any I’ve experienced. Because of that, I’m not quite sure the best way to prepare. At the moment it looks like I’ll be a foot patrol on the site which means the majority of cases I can probably send/escort to a first aid post. I do imagine I’ll be rotating around throughout the day.

Ideally I’d like a few (not too many!) cases where I might need to rack my head to think of how to deal with it. Interestingly we have a number of St John’s members from down south (particularly Leeds) who are coming up, a few on my shifts and possibly as my partner. This would be quite good, I’d love to hear about the differences between us. On the other hand if they wear the green uniform everyone is going to treat them like ambulance staff. Should be interesting!

I’d planned to do some live-twittering but we’ve been told phones should be off whilst on duty. I might manage to slip a few in during my breaks and in the evenings.

All in all, I hope the weather stays nice and that I don’t loose anything I need. Hopefully I’ll be enjoy myself!

In other news, I have 1 week remaining of teenage years. Ahhh! May be getting an iPhone for my birthday though!

Voluntary services in the thick of it

May 2nd, 2008 No comments

I’m a regular reader of The Paramedic’s Diary and couldn’t help but notice the new poll question – Should the voluntary services support the ambulance service on frontline duties?

This likely comes from a recent diary post of his and I felt compelled to write just a bit about it.

Firstly, I’m commenting on this as it would be under usual circumstances – in the event of a major incident (London bombings, etc) then things are obviously different. I’m also basing this mainly on experience in St Andrew’s. I’ll be the first to admit St John’s are quite different on a number of aspects although I’ve tried to come at it from a combined VAS point of view.

The problem with this is how the definition of “support” is taken. If it means relying on a VAS crew attending any type of 999 call then I’d have to say no. Whilst training for some of the St John’s advanced courses (say Emergency Transport Attendant) is undoubtedly tough it is still nowhere near the level required for technicians and paramedics. A VAS crew turning up at a large RTC would, I feel, be quite overwhelmed and wouldn’t have the experience to help them.

Taking another situation, lets say a complication in late pregnancy, would possibly be worse still. Not only is there the medical condition to deal with but there is also a highly emotional situation that a number of professionals would probably not like to be in.

Further, what if there were complications in relation to the actions of the VAS crew? Insurance exists, yes, but to what level? What about regulation? A registered paramedic could face being struck off in a serious situation, but what would happen to a voluntary member? Would communication be effective enough to impose levels of discipline?

These may seem a bit far-fetched, but are foreseeable problems.

On the other hand if we take the situation where a patient is assessed by a technician/paramedic and that professional requests and is confident allowing the care to pass to the voluntary crew then that really is a different matter. Transporting a stable patient doesn’t carry quite the same risk as attending an unknown.

But in the event of a cardiac arrest when even basic lifesaving skills can help, this doesn’t really apply. I might even go as far to pick a VAS crew over a number of GPs I’ve met, basic lifesaving having long since left them.

I guess my point then is that VAS crews might have a use, particularly in busy or definite emergencies. The problems will start when they become preferential to qualified professions which, in today’s cost-effective health service, seems all too likely.

I often comment on St Andrew’s rather slow expansion capacity but if we ever get to the point of covering 999 calls I’d want to be damn sure we covered all the bases.

I’d be interested to hear other views on this and I’ll happily admit I’m not totally knowledgeable about the current policies.

Read more…

Company, Attention!

March 29th, 2008 2 comments

We had our inspection this week as planned and, thankfully, a new inspecting officer had to be drafted in at the last minute. She hadn’t, so I guessed, severed any length of time in the forces and as such wasn’t quite checking whether both boots had enough polish on them or not. Once she checked the line of members we got taken in to another room 3 at a time and asked just 3 questions, mine where:

  • What is angina? (Would’ve been killed if I hadn’t got that right)
  • How do you treat a nosebleed?
  • How do you treat food poisoning?

In all, pretty painless and a lot less stressful than I was expecting. It was followed by a rather small buffet and then that was that. Done for another year.

Personally, I’d make it much more practical. Get people to attend in uniform and ask them to demonstrate a number of tasks as a company on each other. Then walk through them and ask questions. Would’ve been done so much quicker and probably highlighted anyone struggling (which there would be, under pressure).

In the morning I had a duty in the Kelvin Hall with my other medical student colleague. As we (and 900 primary kids) arrived we realised that we didn’t have access to our trolley beds and carry chair which are in the Kelvin Hall. If any relative serious happened (fracture or dislocation is what we were thinking of) we would have no real option but to keep them on the floor until an ambulance arrived. Since we were rather new we felt it would be the exact time that something serious would happen, but thankfully it didn’t.

Ice, plasters and TLC got us through the event.

We did manage to entertain a local newspaper photographer/journalist. He decided to take a picture of us with the possibility of it being included. Unfortunately I have no idea where I can get it so I can only hope it’ll catch my eye.

After that we both went to HQ (my first visit!) to get some uniform sorted. The fact it’s taken 5 and a bit months for me to get this bit of uniform (it’s technically what we wear outdoors) speaks volumes. The money (60!) also comes out my expenses so for 15 duties I will receive no contribution towards travel. This really annoys me, since the event organisers are paying what I don’t imagine will be a small amount to get cover. I have no real problem with being a volunteer I just feel that out-of-pocket expenses should be covered, especially by an association which is in the position to do so.

In the evening I was attending the Scotland vs. Croatia friendly at Hampden. Unlike my last big match at Hampden, I was much more confident for some reason and we had a greater number of first aiders available. The event went without any significant injuries. We had a young (perhaps a bit younger than me) French-turn-Scottish fan start chatting to us before the match and he dutifully returned at half-time. I wasn’t too sure if he was drunk – I couldn’t smell anything – or just very excited to be there but he was an interesting character and I hope he enjoyed it.

As far as casualties went we had a middle aged chap looking for some paracetamol for a migraine. He got sent to the docs and got some co-codamol instead. We were expecting him to be back later in the game but that must’ve helped as we heard no word from him again.

Radio problems were all the rage on the night. We had a visit from two other first aiders to tell us our radio wasn’t working. By the end of the match we had to go back and tell them the same thing. Thankfully my colleague was dealing with the radio and was happy to do so because I could hear a lot of interference.

I was almost not going to be allowed to go to the game as our company were at odds with the exec over nothing other than money. I don’t even pretend to be interested in these debates – we’re volunteers and we’re not concerned about money. When we’re not allowed to go to an event we want to (and they’re struggling to get first aiders to cover it) then I don’t see why I shouldn’t move. In the end we were allowed and we made up about a 1/5th of the first aiders.

The form for covering T in the Park has been made available on the website. I really do want to do it (it may be my only year!) but I just don’t know what days I can do due to my (*shudder*) job. I’m thinking of just putting down the Friday/Saturday and sort work out when I’m actually employed. Will wait and see if I can gather up any support.

Categories: First aid Tags:

When is something “urgent”?

March 12th, 2008 No comments

So there I was, dashing from shop to shop in the rain (although, thankfully, nothing like that’s been hitting our friends down south) when I receive a text message from my commandant. Normally when I receive a message at this time of day when we have training at night it is to tell me it has been cancelled. However, not so on this occasion.The message read something along the lines of “please attend tonight, letter received, urgent”.

My companion at the time started asking me what I had done wrong, assuming the message had been sent to just me. I racked my previous duties to consider if I had done anything worthy of a letter from above. They best I could come up with at the time was this poor blog. I wondered if someone somewhere had found it and had a problem with what I was writing.

As we pondered, I dropped a quick message in to one of my colleagues who also happens to be a Glasgow medic. They eventually got back to me to let me know that they might struggle to make it, being out of Glasgow and having a fair bit of work to do and I inferred (correctly) that she too had received the message. I also had a lot to be getting on with as my essay at that stage was far from finished. However, being urgent, I attended dutifully.

Was it urgent?

No.

I don’t think so anyway.

It was referring to the possible increase in insurance that might happen due to a lack of people attending moving and handling courses. This fee might even have to be paid by members! However, if that was to happen the company would pay it on our behalf. So all in all the letter was meaningless.

My colleague was really annoyed at this, as she could’ve been doing her work due in tomorrow. I was only mildly annoyed as I hadn’t really expected anything big. However, it raises a point.

If this is to keep happening for trivial matters (we have an AGM in 3 weeks, could’ve waited till then, no?) then when something that is actually urgent occurs I may be inclined to ignore it.

That said, something positive did take place which fully justified attending. We each received a new and improved first aid bag. They’re only about a month and a bit behind, but that’s not too bad I guess. Here’s a snap of the new (left) and old bag, with a pen for size comparison.

dsc01259.jpg

Ignoring the fact it’s a really bad picture, you can see why it’s such an improvement. Now all I need is some stuff to put in it. I think I’ve bought enough so I’ll just keep my eye of for free supplies.

Another benefit of attending was the chance to put my name down for a rather big event at the end of the month. Not 100% sure I can make it, but I’ll hopefully find a way to get there. All I need to try and do now is get a hard hat and blue suit before then. Heh, one can dream.

Categories: First aid, Rant Tags:

A few good days

February 28th, 2008 2 comments

Quite rare, but they do happen.

Just yesterday, when I talked to my mum and decided not to work at all over Easter and instead face financial mayhem, do I hear about an interview for a phlebotomy job. Considering I’ve applied for that about 3 times in the past, it’s progress. It’s next Wednesday and I just so happen to be free that day. Call it fate. We’ll see.

Even more impressive was my mum taking me to see cars and end up buying one. Sadly it’s not for me but I was still amazed at the abruptness of her decision.

Pain management is rolling along nicely. We have only one more clinical day outstanding and it’s paediatrics, which should be excellent. I have so far this SSM seen – people in pain, gynae day surgery, more people in pain, impressive surgery involving blood with colourful stuff in it, difficult intubations and difficult sedated patients, 2 caesarian sections (both girls, all well), fractured femurs and difficult hips, knee replacements and acupuncture. Quite a lot for 2 weeks! It’s been an excellent module and now I have to start thinking more about the report. I’ll probably stick with PCA as it’s quite a wide topic. Not sure if I’ll get it buffed up to the size required for the essay competition – it’s possible.

We have a tutorial tomorrow to discuss it with our supervisor so I’ll see what’s mentioned then. Following that I have what can only be described as a weekend of first aid – kids hockey, adults boxing (both Friday), Saturday football and helping out at a first aid class on Sunday. I didn’t quite plan it to happen like that, but if phlebotomy goes forward I may not have many free weekends left!

Categories: First aid, General, Medical, Uni Tags:

The importance of the web

February 18th, 2008 No comments

Personally, I would say the internet is one of the most important mediums these days. Access is almost national and an organisation that didn’t have a web site would probably look rather silly. I’m sure most people would agree with me so far.

I wish St Andrew’s would.

The main site is pretty decent, a few technical errors but the content is good and pretty up to date. It provides a reasonably welcoming approach to volunteering and details of where people can go to find out more.

If you move from here onto the Glasgow Executive site then already the colours have changed, layout is different and personally it just doesn’t look as good. However, you’re going to have difficulties getting there anyway as the main page does not link to the Exec one. This sublevel is also not quite as up to date and certainly doesn’t have a very welcoming spiel for potential volunteers.

If we go even deeper into the actual company level, you’ll only find a few with proper web sites. Even then there are those with web sites and they have no incoming links. At this stage the layout resembles nothing of the main page and could be way out of date. The majority of them have no attraction for potential volunteers save perhaps an email address.

Ideally there should be some uniformity. I’d also like to see the same colours preserved across the sites, making it obvious that they’re all St Andrew’s. Further, there should be a contact form, as well as an email address, for potential volunteers. Further things such as calendars (which need to be up to date or are pointless) and pictures do nothing but add depth and hopefully spark interest.

I feel that St Andrew’s is very much an “old man’s” company. It’s resisting change as much as possible by sticking to phone numbers and sparse web sites (amongst other things). If it was to modernise just a little bit, it may bring in younger members who’re more enthusiastic about doing duties.

I really like the Grampian site – it looks by a large a lot more professional than the others and yet isn’t difficult to use. It’s also up to date (ish) and has a generally inviting feel (you can disagree with me if you like).

However my favourite so far has to go the Durham LINKS site. It’s a St John’s page so I’m slightly cheating a bit but to me it’s using the net to its best.

I have volunteered to help my company with the website but I’ve got no response. Maybe that’s a good thing as I’d be overly tempted to turn it into more than it probably should be. Then again, since our latest member found us on the web (though not the company site) maybe I’ve got a decent point?

Categories: First aid, Geeky Tags:

What do you do?

February 11th, 2008 No comments

You’re covering First Aid at an event when a member of staff from another, nearby, event asks you to look at someone from the other event.

However, they’re not paying for First Aid cover.

Do you decline, or agree to have a look?

Don’t really want to add any more specifics than that, although I know my answer would start with “It depends…”

Categories: First aid Tags:

Moving up

February 1st, 2008 9 comments

So I got to up my St Andrew’s experience this week by going to my largest event so far at the Rangers vs. Hearts CIS semi-final. The turnout as far as crowd’s concerned was 31000, give or take. To compensate we had 14 first aiders, 4 of which have to be available on the sidelines to staff the scoop stretcher. Another couple were in the first aid room and 2 were duty officers. This gives about 6 to actually staff the crowd. I got the impression, and well it was kind of obvious, that this was a bit few.

The thing I’m not sure about is why. For me to get there I had to do a bit of persevering but if they’re that desperate then I shouldn’t need to. There’s talk about us maybe losing the contract to do the football. I can’t really see that happening because there isn’t really anyone else to do it. Anything is possible though, I guess.

The actual event was pretty good, and a fair bit different from a Queen’s Park game. I had a good conversation with the other first aider I was on with and she filled me in on a lot of basics which I had kind of gathered by now myself. I was just below a bulk of Hearts fans, who were understandably disappointed, but loved making quite comments about the ridiculous hats we have to wear. I understand that there might be some things thrown at us that wouldn’t be comforting were they to hit us on the head. That said, neither the ambulance staff, security staff or stewards have anything of the sort. A bit excessive if you ask me.

I did, however, get a kit bag! It’s one of the old ones but damn it’s better than nothing. Now all I need is a little bit free cash to stock it properly. Phlebotomy anyone? It’s worth (another) shot I think. Maybe.

Categories: First aid Tags:

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