Thursday, February 02, 2006

Panic Prone?

This morning, PT consisted of combatives (hand to hand). So we're all outside on the wet grass and mud in BDUs and tennis shoes, throwing each other around. I was very successfully body slammed by a Polish guy in our platoon.

For our daily training, we hooked up with a medic from a different unit and went to the old Madigan hospital, which is now a training center for the medics I suppose. In any case, we entered a room that used to be an operating room, but was instead covered with camo netting and had sandbags and $20,000 dummies set up, all of who were pretty messed up, and also had realistic genitalia, in case you were wondering, Jen. They breathed, had pulses, and when they were first turned on, one of them screamed, and I could have sworn it was Sam Kinnison.

We spent a few minutes adorning each other's imaginary and inconsequential wounds with field dressings and pressure dressings and mock tourniquets. After that, we were all sent to a classroom to wait while four guys at a time ran through a training exercise. The first group went, and the rest of us chilled, waiting, and BSing. After a while, our turn came, but now the NCO that came with us, who is apparently a good friend of the medic, decided to spice things up a bit. He took us outside, the four of us, and told us not to bother putting our berets on. Next thing I know, we're doing "Front, Back, Goes", front meaning pushups, back meaning flutterkicks, and go meaning run in place. When the first group had totally finished failing their exercise, it was our turn to screw it up, and we all sprinted in, working in teams of two, swiping up a medic bag on our way into the room.

The room itself was completely different from what it had been before. The lights were off, save for a few strobing lights, and battlefield sound effects were cranked up. It wasn't until after we were done that I realized that Black Hawk Down was playing on a projector, and was shown on the wall not five feet away from me. This was also done with little prep time, being that our training was scheduled on short notice. We were later told that normally there's also smoke and pools of blood, etc.

When my partner and I entered, we immediately ran to the casualty at the end of the room, since the first two guys jumped onto the nearest one. The NCOs were screaming, sound effects were going nuts, I couldn't really see anything too well, my partner and I are yelling what we consider vital information to each other ("How the hell should I know?! Hold on! .......K, yeah, he's breathing...sort of....He's a dummy! How are you supposed to check for responsiveness?! Shut up and dress that wound- - I AM dude! Don't talk to me, I'm busy!") and time passes a little too quickly.

Your mind races but not clearly, like a blind mouse on crack in a maze. You put your ear to the casualty's mouth and watch the chest for a rise and fall, looking for breathing. Then you're searching everywhere for signs of bleeding and you tear his BDU top open and he's got an open chest wound, and just as you're trying to process all of this, your partner is hitting you on the shoulder, announcing something sticking out of the casualties leg, so you turn your head, identifying another wound, but fuck, that one isn't priority, you gotta take care of that chest wound fast, and just as you turn your head away, it jerks back and you notice the bruising on the lower leg and the disfiguration, so now you have to splint the leg before you can elevate it to help relieve the bleeding, and you're trying to tell your partner all of this while you tear apart the medic bag looking for a piece of plastic to tape over the lung wound, and now the NCOs are yelling at you again, having a ball stressing you out, and actors on the wall are making your job look more glamorous than it really is, and the whole time, seconds are falling away like the skin of a skillfully peeled potato. Its extremely chaotic, to say the least.

I personally have a lot of respect for medics. They see a lot of things people shouldn't have to see. More than the rest of us. Their job is all about aftermath. Destruction is easy, anyone can do it. Creation and preservation is what takes talent. Not to mention a very clear head in their case. I may have to search and see if any medics actually write about their job or not. By no means is it an easy job.

1 comment:

julie anna said...

Good blog! Can I add you to my rainy day reading list?