I think today was the third strike for hard hit lessons. The first one was during my OFA3 practical exam, the second was during my EMR practical exam, and now it wasn’t in front of one examiner, but in front of 500 people and VIPs. Now 500 people isn’t bad except for the fact that 98% of them know advanced first aid, or are nurses, paramedics, and some, doctors.
I was selected along with a couple of other people to do a bike patrol first aid demonstration for this special event with St John Ambulance. I wasn’t nervous going into it, but I did feel the pressure of hundreds of eyes bearing down on me. My partner and I approached the scene and circled the patient doing a scene assessment for hazards, then I got off my bike, got the O2 tank and approached my patient. There was a narrator that narrated the scenario, and I felt like I had to keep time with his promptings while doing first aid, so I went a little faster than I would normally have liked. I checked if he had fallen, hit his head, what happened, then proceeded to doing the ABCs. I did everything in the mneumonic HEMP-BC* except for the most important one B-SI*. I felt like I had gloves on, technically I did have gloves on–bike gloves, but that wasn’t the same especially since they were the summer ones with the finger holes in it. I noticed my mistake partway through the RBS* and quickly changed to the actual gloves, meanwhile thinking S&*$!
I felt like an idiot pulling off my bike gloves and putting on the nitrile gloves, I could feel all the eyes burning into me, perhaps mocking me, chastising me, it was so obvious that I’d messed up and there was nothing I could do about it, I was still in the spotlight. I couldn’t believe I made such a beginner mistake. All these thoughts were bombarding me, as I shook the thoughts away and continued the rest of the assessments. I mean, what else was I supposed to do?
The worst part was feeling like I was letting down the people I was representing.
I don’t think my head was quite there as if it was a real call. I felt that the pace wasn’t dictated by me but by the narrator. There is always a different pressure during mock scenarios like practical exams than in real life situations that I can’t explain. I’ve always found it more difficult during those situations because there is someone watching you and criticizing you. I think it might’ve been the same this time round with the demo except instead of one examiner there were a whole armory full. But in the end, these are all just excuses.
I find it funny how in all my actual bike duties I had never made that mistake, yet here I was making a mistake like that in a demonstration. What were the factors that caused this to happen? Was it the pressure of the tight fitting bike gloves, making me feel like I already had gloves on? Or was it just the adrenaline factor, and I didn’t keep it in control enough to notice the details of my actions even though I felt level headed and calm? Was it because the patient was someone I know and not an actual drunk who reeks of alcohol? I don’t know the answer except that at the time I just forgot and made a mistake.
It is the mistakes that hit me hard that I learn the best from. So along with the other two hard hit lessons, I don’t think I’ll ever make this same mistake again. Just like how I’ll never forget about tremens delirium for that status epilepticus call, or the spinal board strapping, or the red vs blue thermometer.
Honestly, I don’t know why I’m sharing this with you (I mean who on earth voices out their embarrassing mistakes to the world?), but it just feels better to write it out.
For those who don’t know the mneumonics:
*HEMP-BC = Hazards, Enviornment, Mechanism of Injury, # Persons Injured, Body Substance Isolation, Condition of patient/general impression
*BSI= Body Substance Isolation (depending on the scenario: gloves, goggles, gowns, etc.)
*RBS = Rapid Body Survey (Assessing patient for life threatening or limb threatening injuries)