I spent a recent Saturday morning taking a first aid class offered by an area hospital, in conjunction with the national campaign organized by several organizations, such as Stopthebleedingcoalition.org (search #stopthebleed to find a link). I attended the program to learn things I hope I never need to know or use. I’ve always been a “be prepared” kind of person starting with my Cub Scout and Boy Scout days. I took a First Aid class in college as an elective and subsequently, a CPR program. The #stopthebleed course is offered by various organizations; mine was offered by the North Broward Hospital District which treated many victims from the Parkland school shooting. The hospital’s lead trauma surgeon taught the class portion of the program. One of the most intriguing lessons was on the use of tourniquets. When I got my first aid merit badge, tourniquets were recommended for bleeding and making a tourniquet out of available materials, such as a bandana and a stick, was taught and recommended. When I took my college Red Cross first aid class, they taught us NOT to use tourniquets. At the time, it was feared that using them would lead to extremity loss “downstream” of the tourniquet. Today the thinking is that stopping the bleeding is the most important thing to accomplish and it should be done quickly so that the victim can get to a hospital within an hour of injury – the golden hour. The trauma surgeon addressed the renewed emphasis on tourniquets, and the past avoidance of them, by explaining that research has shown they can be usually be used for up to 2 hours without the danger of extremity loss. And, the technology, though still simple, has developed with the invention of the combat application tourniquet, aka C-A-T. This is now an item used by all military branches. Melissa does not understand or share my interest in first aid training, but I have several hobbies which involve enough risk to be ready to act in the event of an accident. And, after an accident involving a friend, Brian, who was engaging in the not so high risk activity of photography, it became clear that my traditional first aid kit, BANDAIDS® and gauze, is woefully inadequate when things go from good to very bad in the blink of an eye. My friend suffered a number of injuries as the result of a fall, including a deep cut. My newfound knowledge would have been very helpful if I had been there. So, whether it is with hobbies, in a workplace or anywhere where bad things happen, being prepared has always made sense to me. And, it is important that I have newfound knowledge, such as recently learning that tourniquets are back in vogue. I also know that the CPR regimen I learned evolved over time, which is a reminder of the need to keep up to date with the evolution of first aid recommendations. The bottom line of this post is that our environment can be dangerous. We fear some of the dangers as we read about them in the daily news. But, some dangers are less obvious and yet, most people are unprepared for any of them. I know this is not something most people want to think about, much less, get their hands dirty by providing aid, but as Brian’s accident proved, things happen. Being ready to help others, or help oneself, is important to me. As some have said, the life you save may be your own.
The only thing I know about tourniquets is the song, “Tourniquet,” by Breaking Benjamin. I don’t share David’s zeal for being prepared, particularly when learning about being prepared occurs early on Saturday morning, at a hospital. David is more prepared for every situation than anyone else I know. Regardless of the situation, he is ready for terrible things to happen. We attended a concert at a small venue in Boca Raton, Florida (a nice, upscale town) recently and David tapped me on the shoulder to inform me of the nearest exit. (It was behind me, out of my line of sight.) Maybe I should be more vigilant, but the only thing I was thinking about was how much I was looking forward to the upcoming musical experience. The last thing on my mind was leaving through the emergency exit. David has a lot of “stuff” related to just about every situation he can imagine. When we go places, the amount of luggage he packs is unfathomable to me! He has a flashlight, utility knives, and who knows what else with him. He is ready for anything! He is the only person I know who, when the Marine Patrol boarded our boat for a safety inspection, enjoyed showing off all of the safety equipment we had on board. I couldn’t wait for them to disembark from our boat, but David prolonged the inspection by regaling them with all of the nifty gadgets he had on board, just in case we were attacked by pirates on the Caloosahatchee. I’m glad there are people like David, who are informed and eager to help others in an emergency. These dedicated individuals are thoughtful when dealing with people like me, whose idea of “emergency equipment” is a having a corkscrew in the glove compartment of my car. The moral of this story is, if you’re experiencing an emergency, ask David for help. (This also applies if you need someone to take a photo for you; ask David instead of me!)