Sunday, July 16, 2006

IV - CLS Certification

As I mentioned in a previous posting, I was looking forward to the experience of administering and IV into the arm of a lucky victim. I had a feeling of some trepidation all afternoon. I don’t really like needles that much – but then who does other than a drug user – but I digress. We got some excellent instruction on how to do it as well as some great tips from our small-group instructor. We then divided up into pairs and got to work. We were outside on the grass and I was the give-or the first time. (I don’t have any picture of me giving the IV so you’ll have to take my word for it. Actually, everyone around me was working and couldn’t take one for me.) The LT who was my partner, had great veins. After flexing his arm with the restricting band on, his veins were just begging to be stuck. I followed the instructions to the “T” and slipped that needle into his arm without any problem. I got the catheter in just fine. Then I pulled out the needle and he began to ooze blood. Not unexpected as I hadn’t put on the saline lock or an IV bag. (The saline lock is a device that you can put on before you put on the IV bag. It stops the flow of blood. You can then tape that to the patients arm and later come back and administer the IV.) It was a little disconcerting and I got momentarily flustered looking for the saline lock so he bled more than I’d have liked. He was a good sport though. After I got the saline lock on, I got him taped up and had the instructor check my work to that point. Then we had to flush the saline lock with saline from the IV bag and then insert the IV into the lock, get a good saline drip, show the instructor and then we were done. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be so if anyone needs an IV now, I’ll feel like I could actually do it. (As we train in the heat and humidity, if anyone suffers from heat exhaustion or becomes a heat casualty, that’s one of the first things we do when administering first aid – stick them with a saline IV to get their body fluids up.)

After I finished, the LT got up and we were both amazed at the pool of blood that had formed under his arm. There were ants all over the place and he was being eaten while he was laying there. They loved him for some reason. They didn't bother me fortunately. Anyway, a few minutes after he got up, we looked at his blood pool, and it was swarming with ants. It was morbidly fascinating watching that boiling ant mass. OK, sorry for grossing you out.

It was then my turn to get stuck. He did a good job. It didn't hurt, just a little discomfort as he pushed the catheter into my arm. I didn't bleed as much as he did so was grateful for that.

There was about 80 of us spread all over the grass doing IV's. It was like a mini-trauma center.

I can now say that I am a “combat lifesaver” as I got a 95% on the written exam and passed all the practicals. The practicals consisted of conducting a patrol and coming upon a unit that had taken casualties. The injuries ranged from road rash – my patient – to an amputated foot, to extensive gunshot wounds – those were my injuries when I was playing the patient, etc. The injured are given a card with a color photograph of an injury on the front with a written description of the injury on the back. (Some of the pictures are pretty gross, especially the double leg amputee and foot amputee. They’re mannequins but they look incredibly real. The instructor said that the fleshy, blood-oozing wounds were actually deer meet. They were disgusting.) As the combat life saver (CLS) would approach the patient, we had to do an initial assessment and try to discover the problem before the injured patient would give us his card. Of course, in real life some of the injuries would be obvious, but we needed to go through the routine.

When it was my turn to play CLS, we actually came under sniper fire from an injured enemy so myself and another officer got to deal with him. It was fun. The “enemy” put up a good fight as we struggled to take away his weapons to the point that I just about took the butt of my rifle and was going to give him a “butt-stroke” to the head – pretend of course, but we didn’t have to get to that point.

It was a good class.