After a full week-end saving lives, I am exhausted! Ok, this was all pretend play, but I swear that NZ Coastguard /MedAire coastal medic course is not for the faint-hearted. Between gore pictures and videos of a femoral artery gushing blood (albeit very pixelated, thank God), de-gloving fingers (I learnt a new word), or wounds with protruding guts to name but a few, and dramatic scenarios to role-play as practice exercises, I wondered whether the true purpose of the course was, like the advanced sea survival one, not to put anyone off boating altogether. It certainly challenged my thirst for adventures and questioned whether I would not be better off staying home, comfortably binge-watching movies or series on Netflix, curled up under a fluffy blanket, and pecking pop-corn for the rest of my life!
Thankfully, our instructor, a former ICU nurse and sailor herself, was highly engaging, fun and capable of getting a laugh out of us while discussing the most tragic of circumstances. She was also excellent at explaining the why behind any recommended action or treatment. As a result, I learnt how the heart worked, and even understood the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest. The former due to constricted coronary arteries, the latter being caused by an electrical dysfunction of the sinoatrial (SA) node, which I like to remember as the heart spark plugs, an analogy that didn’t convince all my fellow trainees but that a quick online search corroborated.
“Eew! It takes a special kind of person to do all that stuff” commented my workmate Josh when I told him about my week-end. Yes, maybe, I don’t know. It is a Cat 1 requirement for one, and, anyway, I wanted to gain confidence and feel equipped to deal with different trauma and medical situations were they to occur on land or at sea.
Meanwhile, Thomas and the kids were casually getting on with their life (think DIY, swinging off the mast, playing in the mud, visiting friends, eating crêpes), as if none of the above would ever happen to them. And that’s precisely what I wish. Even though next week-end I’m getting one step further with the offshore part of the course, I hope that my newly acquired knowledge will never have to be put to practical use!