I took a lot of first aid classes back in the day.
Advanced First Aid.
First Aid and CPR.
First Aid for lifeguards who work at camps in the middle of nowhere.
First Aid for ambulance dispatchers.
Okay, I may be making some of those up. But I WAS an ambulance dispatcher at one point in my life. And I worked as a lifeguard at more than one camp in the middle of nowhere. I think my title at one was lifeguard and the other was Aquatics Director, which sounded lofty and important, but I basically did the same job at both camps. Lifeguarded.
My one rescue in all my years of lifeguarding was at a camp. A little boy with Down Syndrome zipped past me while I unlocked the gate to the pool. He jumped right into the deep end. His eyes widened when he realized he couldn’t touch the bottom, and, as he floundered there, I reached in, grabbed his arm, and pulled him to the side. I actually didn’t need any lifeguarding classes to do what I did in that moment. It was all instinct. After that, his counselor made sure he had on his lifejacket before they headed to the pool.
Once, when I was coaching high school girls, I had a swimmer that had donated blood earlier in the day. Her puncture wound from donating opened while she was swimming and started bleeding. A lot.
“C’mon out,” I told her, and placed my hand firmly over the wound to apply pressure.
Meanwhile, another swimmer started feeling light-headed from the sight of the blood. “Stay at the wall,” I called over my shoulder to the woozy girl as I walked the bleeding swimmer to a bench. A couple of swimmers stayed with Woozy.
I wondered where the lifeguard was when I saw her hurrying toward me, pulling on latex gloves as she came. I looked at my hand on the girl’s arm. I was holding the arm up while she lay on the wooden bench. I had blood on my fingers. There was blood rivulets down her arm. A trail of blood drops led from the pool to the bench.
The lifeguard stopped. She blew her whistle and cleared the pool, helping Miss Light-Headed out and shepherded the girls away from all the blood.
My first First Aid classes had been pre-AIDS and pre-blood-borne-illness precautions. My instincts and early classes kicked in long before I thought about getting gloves on. Apply pressure and elevate.
I don’t know if that makes me a good responder or a bad one.
I guess I’m a gut responder.
Then I spend the next ten years second-guessing myself.
Back to Bleh — this morning I thought, I’m going to look at the Daily Prompt, and if I’m inspired, I’ll write. The prompt was “Puncture,” and I immediately thought of Sucking Chest Wounds — doesn’t everybody?
I had learned about them in First Aid a long time ago, and found them fascinating, although I always thought it a little silly to learn about them because they fell into the category of Probably-Information-I-Will-Never-Use.
The initial title for this post was “Sucking Chest Wounds,” but when I started writing, well, you see what came out. Nary a word about sucking chest wounds.
And no good conclusion.