The past few weeks have been absolute chaos, but the good kind, if that's possible. See, one of the great things about being a combat medic is that there are endless learning opportunities available to those that would like them. I recently had the privilege of attending a NREMT-B Recertification class at one of the local Reserve/National Guard training sites in my area. As a 68W, the first few weeks of training are solely to prepare you for taking your test to become a Nationally Registered EMT-B. Its the Army's way of not only teaching you the basics of civilian medicine but also a way of allowing you to continue to expand your skills civilian-side. However, this license is only good for two years before it needs to be renewed, and part of the renewal proccess is keeping up on what they call Continuing Education credits.
Anyway, this class counted for approximately 1/3rd of the Continuing Education credits that I was required to have annually both as a medic and as an EMT. This was a 5 day class that consisted of mostly PowerPoint after PowerPoint of slides consisting of stats and info that most medics could spout off in their sleep but also quite a few things that had changed since the last time I was in one of these classes. We also had to take what they call "skills testing", where we had to show our profficiency on all the basic skills of an EMT, such as airway procedures, spinal immobilization, bleeding control, and even our assesments that we do when we first arrive on scene. It was an awesome experience in which I learned quite a few new things.
The whole week was capped off by then meeting my unit for our drill weekend literally across post from the medic schoolhouse I was attending. Each month my unit does something completely different, all off of a list we deemed "the deployment checklist", basically everything we need to be proficient on to be ready to deploy. This month was convoy operations. For those of you not familiar with that term, its basically the way a unit drives when they are in large groups of vehicles, both stateside and in the Middle East. We practiced driving on highways, patrol scenarios, and my favorite, off terrain driving. Those of us in my area also know it as "mudding", or driving a vehicle in the woods or rough area avoiding the roads. The best part was we did it at night so you really couldn't see what was in front of you until you were there. This is where safe driving practices all come into play as well as confidence in yourself. You have to be prepared for anything just in case so that you can react properly, because trust me these vehicles were bouncing all over the place. My HMWVV even blew a tire on a sharp rock we didn't see, but because we were prepared for anything we had the proper equipment with us to tow said vehicle back to the motor pool so our mechanics so they could put a new tire on.
So amidst all of this babbling, I am sure you are wondering what the lessons of the week are since I always seem to throw one in there somewhere. They are pretty basic this time, simply taking all opportunities that are offered to you is a big one, because in today's Army, one opportunity can lead to another and another and so on and so forth. The other big one is to always be prepared for anything, because you never know when you are going to be thrown into a situation thats going to test just how ready you really are.
Until next time, have fun, be safe, be smart, and don't be afraid to make mistakes, its the only way you truly learn.