Sunday, April 15, 2007

Combat Life Saver

There are several things that I learned about myself in the past week. One: I can be a human pin cushion (as in literally); two: I know how to insert a 6 inch tube inside the nose of a person; three: if in case I do not become a soldier, I can be a nurse and then finally: I'm loving the Army.
I spent the last week going through the different skills that we will need when we become Officers of the Philippine Army. While I was bored with tracing all the streams and roads of Olongapo in a piece of plastic acetate for our Advanced Map Reading Class, there was some kind of thrill when we finally had our Combat Life Saving Instructions. Yes, combat life saving, some kind of first aid in combat situations.

The good thing about the enemies of the state is that they seldom inflict that much damage on our troops. In instances where our military units have been at a disadvantage, it has been mostly due to compromises brought about by sympathizers who give information to the enemy regarding our soldiers. In most cases, our casualties are due to improper handling of situations that need immediate medical attention, that is first aid. And so, there goes the reason for studying Combat Life Saving.

Most common cause of death is excessive bleeding which leads to loss of blood and shock, and then the improper handling of fractures. Another consideration is the safety of our men. I mean, a soldier will be more confident fighting side by side with you if he knows that you can take care of him in case he is wounded. And so I begin to tell my story at learning to be a Combat Life Saver.

As in all First Aid instructions, we had to go back to the ABC's 0f first aid-- the A being Airway or simply making sure that the airway of the patient is clear. I was told that in some cases when a soldier is hit blood blocks the air passage of his body. I was taught some ways to make sure that the airway of the patient is clear and the most exciting of it all is the procedure where a tube called nasopharyngeal is inserted inside the nostril of a person. I was a bit shocked seeing the pictures of the procedure being done not knowing that in a few moments I was to perform it to my classmate.

I started with putting on the gloves, making sure it remains sterile. Then I put lubricant to the "thing" finally beginning to hold it in place ready for insertion. Slowly, it makes its way inside my classmates nose while the rest where looking at the reaction on the face of my "patient." First obstruction and I can see my classmate flinch clearly there was some kind of irritation (or maybe pain). I pulled it back a little, some wiggling action and then it continues to slide. More flinching coupled by a few gasps from the spectators around me and finally its in -- all 6 inches of it. If inserting it was a bit hard, removing it was a breeze, its just pulling it out, no elaborate procedure and then we switch places. I was to be the patient this time. I really should have pictures of that tube inside my nose. Well, that was my first discovery.

In my youth, I once spent a whole day in a hospital bed with a dextrose plugged to me. I never imagined that a day will come that I will be the one to "plug it in." The thing with me is that I am not really that afraid with blood. I remember the time when my niece had a serious cut on her foot and it was oozing with blood. The other adults in the house were screaming at the top of their lungs while I was washing the wounded foot with soap and water, putting some improvised dressing and then sending her to the hospital for stitches.

Again, in front of me are my devices. A needle that is to be attached to a dextrose and my classmates arm. After finding a prominent vein, I took my aim and then blood starts to ooze out of my classmate's arm. I never realized how strong blood flows inside our vein. It was a good hit the first time around and then it was my turn. It was my time to be the human pin cushion.

If I wasn't that terrified with blood and piercings, my classmate was. I could see the needle shaking as he aims it at my arm. When it finally gets in, he seems hesitant to push the needle further inward. First hit, even if around 2 inches of the needle was inside my skin, there was no blood coming out. Second, my arm had a bulge near the point of insertion (which was a sign that something was wrong). Five needles and an already painful arm after it was in, much to my relief (whew!!!) I came back to my room that night wondering why I allowed my classmate to do that to me. Well, I guess that is just how it is.

I really wish that I had pictures of that experience. It may sound weird but going through it kind of allows me to see myself at a level I have not seen myself before. I did not know I had the guts to actually do those things. I now wonder why some of those in the medical profession have not mastered doing those procedures when we practically went through a crash course in performing those. I learned that the only limitation we can have is somewhere between our ears. If we just try doing it, we can be successful.

Next week, we will have the more fun stuff, we will have Close Quarter Battle. I guess that's it for now. I love you people...

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