Throughout the past four days, the MCS community has spent over thirty-two hours in a classroom. We listened to lectures, took notes, and discussed the issues covered by our amazing instructor, Eric Duffy. All forty of us basically participated in a two-day class that taught how to save lives. The class was called Wilderness First Aid, or WFA.
Ashley: I thought that the WFA course was one of the most useful classes that I have ever participated in. The best parts of this class was the emergency scenarios that we had to act out in order to practice our newly learned skills. During the first scenario, Max played the part of a construction worker who had been working when an explosion blew up his work site. Confused and traumatized after the event, Max supposedly suffered severe lung damage and coughed up blue food coloring. The other students in the class had to act as the medical professionals that were attempting to save Max’s and his fellow co-workers’ lives. I remember how confused and foreign I felt trying to assist the screaming and crazed patients from the explosion that were both mentally and physically traumatized. I felt overwhelmed and completely helpless as I scrambled through the assessments we learned and the necessary procedures to help the injured workers. The more I learned about the situation, the more comfortable I felt about trying to help my patient survive his injuries without bleeding to death or without suffocating. My patient in particular suffered a serious head wound and was unconscious on the ground. I worked hard to get him breathing and to control his bleeding. Although the entire scenario was fake, it was extremely stressful to be suddenly responsible for saving someone’s life. By the end of the scenario, I was certain that I had accidentally killed my patient. In actuality, my patient was in better condition than he was before and I was able to successfully prevent him from dying. Although it took the whole class for me to feel completely comfortable applying the new skills I learned to the situations presented to me, I was really able to grasp how serious these situations could become if the proper steps were not taken to ensure public safety.
My anxiety during the scenarios definitely showed me what a possible response from me may have been before the training. I know that without the complete training and without such an excellent instructor, I would probably freeze up in an emergency situation and I would not be able to respond in a useful manner. Now, I no longer fear the possible responsibility of handling another person’s life. If there ever was a real situation where help was delayed but action was necessary, I would feel pretty good about helping out.
Max: My favorite part of the WFA course was the scenarios that each of us participated in. During my second scenario, I was using what we had learned in class about ASR (Acute Stress Reaction) and the signs of dehydration and lack of food to diagnose my patient with drug usage and severe volume loss. During the exercise, Ashley played the part of a woman who had used drugs and had then eaten everything that she could get her hands on. At first, I was really frustrated that I was unable to get a direct answer of what had happened when I questioned her on the previous events leading up to her illness. However, I tried to imagine myself in the patient’s shoes and I realized that they were probably just as frustrated as I was and were probably in a lot more pain. By considering how the patient may have felt during the scenario, I became a lot more patient and I learned twice as fast about what to do during the situation. Each of the scenarios became easier for me mentally. I became a quick responder to what was happening around me and I usually administered the correct treatments on my patients. By the end of the final scenario, also known as the rodeo, I felt confident enough about having to single-handedly save the injured people I came across. Learning how to handle high stress situations independently was an extremely fun and rewarding experience for me and my peers. Not only was it entertaining to act out the scenarios we were assigned, but having to find the appropriate treatment for the injuries we came across was one of the most fun mental challenges I have ever experienced.
For the both of us, the WFA training we went through to become certified in Wilderness First Aid was one of the most rewarding experiences we have encountered here at Chewonki. Although everything we do is meaningful and is always more fun than anyone could possibly think was possible, the Wilderness First Aid training stands out as one of the top five activities here. Actually going through the process of learning the material was extremely interesting and really kept us involved during the class. Practicing the proper treatments on our classmates gave us enough practice to make us confident that we knew what to do during emergency situations in the wilderness, but the scenarios we got to act out were really fun and the most exciting part of the class. Learning about what to do during emergency situations has given us confidence about being able to help the public when needed. Before this experience, neither of us would have known what to do if we had ever encountered someone unconscious or someone suffering from severe bleeding. We are both pretty proud to know that we successfully completed the course and that we know more than an average person might about how to save people in potentially harmful situations. This class has encouraged us to want to help others more and has given us the confidence to do so.
-Ashley Rassi, Brooklyn Heights, OH
& Max Ritchie, Portland, ME