FTL weekend two: Part One
First I left my house, which had to power at the time due to a snow storm and a downed tree. There was no way I was taking a freezing cold shower before leaving. Those of you in my class, sorry about the smell.
Friday night we jumped right into packaging someone in the litter. This consists of wrapping a poor sap up like a many layered burrito with tarps, blankets, and cushioning. Then, they enjoy the pleasure of being donned with a helmet and safety goggles, their helmet duct taped to the litter, and strapped in with a hundred feet of webbing. While we helped the FTM’s practice this technique, I daydreamed about the wonderful potential of practical jokes during this portion of the class.
We headed outside into the fridged air to practice carrying the litter up, around, and through many obstacles. Most of the obstacles turned out to be the horrible undergrowth, vines, and downed trees found in the woods near the community center. It was a perfect practice for the real world. Thank goodness there were no laurels or rhododendrons to practice on near these woods. The patient is carried head first through the woods instead of feet first to prevent branches catching on the patient’s feet and slung directly into his face, OUCH!
As Field Team Leader, I needed to learn how to lead the Field Team Members in carrying the litter through the mess. I would pick out a perfect route and strategy for navigating through the tangle then look back at the FTM’s streaming towards me like many ants over the brambles and branches. They were moving so much more quickly than I expected. I looked back in the woods towards my proposed route and realized I lost it! I looked away for only a few seconds and the woods seemed to change. DOH! I managed to pick a similar route out through as the FTM’s swarmed past me, passing the litter between two tight lines of people. Next time I do this, I am grabbing a few FTM’s to stand in my proposed route ahead of me so I don’t lose it. Noted.
Hands down, the best part of the evening was learning about confined space litter handling. While I may not be rescuing very many people out of caves I could definitely see how these tactics could be used on many searches. Plenty of trails in the Appalachians squeeze through gaps in giant boulders, sometimes going under the rocks. We practice getting a litter through a tight squeeze by using the doorway to the community center. The instructors directed several of us to crawl hands and knees under the litter the team of six was hoisting into the air one at a time. I crawled most of way to the door realizing I had crawled far further than was required to clear the litter. I had to of looked ridiculous crawling to the door with nothing above my head. I grinned at the image.
How in the world were they going to get the litter through the door? There was barely enough room for it to fit by itself, much less the people needed on either side to carry it. The man standing closest to the door was instructed to get on his hands and knees in the door way facing the door frame. He wisely turned his hands so his fingers pointed inwards and ducked his head. The litter was slid across his back and through the doorway to the group that had crawled under the litter and into the building. We each took a grip when the litter slid to us and slowly lowered it and the poor man suckered into it. I bid him goodbye, teasing we were going to leave him tied up in the thing. He gave me a big grin. So, no worse for wear.
What a ride that must have been.
Saturday was going to be a long one. I hit the hotel room as soon as I could. Right after that hot shower.