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Westport 11-20-2010

Whew! We had our EMS practicals last Saturday morning at the Public Safety Building in Lewis - a series of six "stations" that we had to complete to the satisfaction of the examiners. We were pretty nervous. I made some basic mistakes from sheer jitteriness, temporarily missing some obvious stuff I knew perfectly well, and I know I wasn't alone. But, the good news is we all passed in the end.

The way it worked was the examiners set up the stations in and around the training room, and we students all gathered in a smaller room down the hall where we couldn't see them. There were six cards, one for each station. You took a card down to the designated station and did your best, then brought the card back and gave it to a fellow student who hadn't done that station.

Station One was Patient Assessment - Trauma. This was the big daddy, the one that had us most freaked out. The list of things that have to be covered is long and detailed, but it basically comes down to three parts: ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation), obtaining vital signs (pulse, respirations, blood pressure), and physically inspecting the patient for problems.

Station Two is Patient Assessment - Medical, which is almost as exhaustive. It covers the same basic territory but for a patient with a medical condition rather than one with physical trauma. Station Three covers CPR and the use of a defibrillator. Station Four covers how to ventilate patients who can't breathe on their own. Station Five, Spinal Immobilization, has two possibilities, one for a seated patient and one for a supine patient. You draw a card at the station to see which part you get. Station Six has seven possibilities, three for splinting, one for bleeding control, and three for airway and breathing. Here you also draw a card to see which one you get. It took about three hours. Throughout, the examiners were entirely professional, and we were grateful to them and to the volunteer "patients" for their time. Now for the written test, which will be over by the time this comes out.

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