Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hemos and Pneumos and Tamponades Oh My!

Yes, I have a bizarre and possibly unhealthy love of all things trauma. So needless to say, when I could finally take ITLS (International Trauma Life Support) a few weeks back, I was quiet the happy camper. The material itself is an intensified version of all the trauma I learned in EMT class, but having taken that over four years ago, it was really nice to have it again. Personally, I would have loved to have more time for the course, but I understand the need to get as much in as fast as possible (aaaah budgets).

Additionally, my EMS response area has very little regular trauma, so being able to do several rapid trauma assessments with the seasoned guys was really nice. I do have to say I enjoy assessment quiet a bit, though I know I need to get my routine down better. Practice is again rearing its head and yelling at me to do more of it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Practice - Under Pressure

A significant portion of my time in lab deals with setting up bone marrow transplants in mice. Wait, let me correct that. A significant portion of my stress in lab deals with setting up bone marrow transplants, for I inevitably don't have enough cells, I can't find the container for the irradiator, or I the mice I need seemingly vanish. Of course, then I wait over a month for results, but back to the set up.

No matter what happens in the set up, my stress relief/ reward for such a crazy set up is being able to go to my mice rooms and easily inject around 30 mice intravenously (IV) with a 27 gauge needle (read really small, as in smaller than an average pediatric needle, maybe even smaller than a neo natal needle). Wasn't always this was, as in the beginning to took much effort and practice on my part to be comfortable doing IV injections (no catheter, just needle into vein and inject cells), but I have become very comfortable. A bit proud even that I can successfully inject 30 mice without a problem.

Well the other day taught me a very good lesson. I had 45 mice to inject, not really a numbers problem, but I had limit cell numbers (thus very little wiggle room in terms of volume) and very limited time due to an evening class. I even enlisted help, something I don't do often anymore.

Needless to say, the looming time in my mind messed with my head and my skills. Normally, these injections would have been a synch for me but I was suddenly missing vein after perfectly visible vein. This of course only frustrated me, causing more missed veins till I could calm myself down enough to find a stable rhythm.

In the end all the mice were injected, a very necessary step, though I was late to class. The take home lesson, that seems to becoming a theme in my life (lab and ems) is not only is practice necessary, but practice under pressure is needed so that level headedness and steady skills become second nature instead of added stress. Being clear headed and calm on those high adrenaline calls is just as useful as being efficient in lab under a time crunch.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And all those little mistakes come back to you

Not long after I got my first code, my station did a CPR class (mostly for several new people who needed CPR training, but I took it for re-certification reasons). As I sat through the class, it seemed like every little scenario reminded me not only of my call, but what I could have done better. I felt like a brand new EMT again who was just trying to figure out what on earth to do with cardiac patients. I should have been more prepared. I should have done better. I guess the lesson learned was practice, practice, practice.