For the past two weeks I’ve been taking an OFA3 course.  Today I spent 1hr on my written exam and 6hrs on my practical.  I passed my written with flying colours, I passed my practical as well, but on a different emotional tone.  I made a mistake in my first scenario and it’s something that’s eating at me, bugging me, so that despite having passed the exam, I feel like I didn’t deserve to pass.

There’s something about adrenaline.  It gives you energy, makes you more aware of things, but totally kicks your thinking skills out the window.  I was nervous and a bit excited for my first scenario.  I’ve always found practical exams more nerve racking than actually attending to real patients.  I think it has to do with someone breathing down your neck and criticizing your every move.  I felt confident though, because I’ve been doing very well in the past two weeks of training.  

My first scenario was for a man struck by a forklift driver who has a dislocated elbow with signs of slight bleeding.  I also found redness, tenderness and pain on his right upper chest and abdomen (internal bleeding).  It is obvious I have to take C-spine precautions, which I did.  Everything was going really smoothly until halfway through my packaging of the patient to the spine board that the examiner starts pretending to be the patient saying, “It hurts!  It hurts!!  My chest hurts!”  Normally I would have told the patient I know it hurts, but we have to get going to the hospital to get you taken care of.  But it was an exam…and I thought she was hinting that I did something wrong or have forgotten something.  That was when I noticed that straps which has to cross over his chest was directly over his injury.  So in my adrenaline rush, I loosened the chest straps and added padding for comfort at the injured site, and in the haste of things (didn’t I mention before that adrenaline isn’t good for thinking?) modified the strapping system for patient comfort.  

Big mistake.  I lost 15 marks for that.  I seriously believe I should have lost 50.

But really it’s not so much the marks that got to me, but the fact that I could have caused spinal injuries during loading of the patient because of the change I made (leaving the head/neck less secure).  I’ve never changed strapping before, and I have no idea why I did it then.  It was really stupid, and I hate myself for having made such a grave mistake.  It’s something that I won’t ever forget, and I won’t make ever again.  However, it doesn’t change the fact that I did it and the emotions that comes with the possibility of aggravating a possible spinal injury.

It was a good reality check.  That I’m only human, and yes I do make mistakes.  Thankfully I made it in a mock scenario.  There’s a thin line as a first responder, and those in EHS.  As a secretary, you can make mistakes here and there, maybe you’ll anger a customer or have to redo a letter, but as a first aid attendant, paramedic, or medical first responder, you need to be perfect, because certain mistakes can affect someone’s life.  That’s why I took this really hard on myself and I always ask for my very best.  I fell short of my very best today.  I let one remark steer me down a wrong path.  I know logically speaking, no one’s perfect and everybody makes mistakes, but how would you tell someone, “I’m sorry I made a mistake and now you’re paralyzed for life”?

Yes, I’m only human.  It’s just that sometimes I feel like I need to be superhuman.  


7 thoughts on “Superhuman

  1. Now you know what not to do, next time you will know how to take care of the patient without modifying the straps in a way that could possibly result in injury.

    1. I understand what you’re saying GD and I appreciate your comments. I think part of what I wanted to express in this post was how despite knowing that mistakes happen and we should learn from it, the knowledge or understanding of that doesn’t necessarily make the emotions that come with it go away…if that makes any sense at all.

  2. Yeah it makes perfect sense. Those emotions are what drive you to do better and make sure that those mistakes never happen again.

  3. EMOTIONS? Holy shit man… If u can’t handle fucking up on a practical and get all emotional maybe you should go cry and consider a different line of work before you end up killing someone.

    1. Hi Nick,

      Are you saying that we should be emotionless? If being emotionless is good, then I would be content with getting 85% and not caring about the mistakes I made because I still did “good”, but that’s not the point. That feeling something makes me remember so I won’t ever make that mistake ever again. I believe emotions are important in improving and pushing myself to get better.

      Also we learn from mistakes, that’s why there are practical scenarios so we can make the mistakes there and learn from it, before making it out in the field. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe that anybody’s ever gotten 100% on all their exams, tests or practicals in their whole entire lives, or have been perfect in their jobs all the time. Maybe close to perfect, but no one is purely perfect. I acknowledge that there’s still a lot out there for me to learn, and I am still learning and going to school to improve myself, and that is what this post is meant to express.

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