Monday, February 2

“Know your right from left”.

I just got back from my EMT (emergency medical technician) class tonight. To set the stage, there are currently 50 people in the class, many of them local to the area, several college students from the school I teach at, myself and my friend who is working on his Ph.D. (at a far away university) while he works full time at the college. The IQ range in the room has got to be, and I’m not kidding, 40 points or more.

The good news: There are some very well-meaning and kind hearted individuals who want to donate their time and energy to helping their fellow humans, all for no monetary remuneration and, in most cases, no thanks.

The bad news: The class is run at a pace set to keep as many people on board as possible. Some of these people will fail out due to a lack of basic skills that a decent society should be conveying to 8th graders.

Example level of teaching issue: If I tell you someone has a laceration on his right arm, to which arm do you think I am referring? Yes, of COURSE you know where I am going here. However, just in case you are lost, here is a rough translation from class tonight: “this is really confusing because their right is your left, and the other way around, so when you think right, think left, but be sure when you say right you mean the patient’s right”. Ten mintues of this. Really.

When referring to the patient refer to things relative to the patient. That’s all you need to say. Say it once. Say it twice for all I care. But for goodness sakes, WE GET IT. Or at least I hope we do.

Side note:
I do not mean to demean anyone by the IQ statement. Certainly our worth as humans is not IQ dependent. Indeed, we all know “smart” people that are socially retarded, odd, or just plan nasty. In addition, I fully appreciate that beggars cannot be choosers. You call 911 in this community and need the help of the fire department or emergency medical services, and you’ll get your neighbors. Professors, students, mechanics, snow plow operators, food service workers, farmhands, the unemployed, engineers – you name it. They come, they do the best job they can do, and you get help. Most of the time you get damn good help from caring, well trained people. The alternative is to go back to the 50’s when the “ambulance driver” was just that, and it was scoop, drive and drop, with no treatment. When there are more cows than people in your county you take what you can get and we have it pretty good. I just think an EMT class should be taught at the lowest level you’d want for decent EMTs, not the lowest level of the people in the room.