Tonight I was watching the news and heard about a terrorist attack in Spain where a truck was driven into a large crowd of people. There was a video of the aftermath, and even with the blurred faces and hidden injuries that the media didn’t want to show, one very obvious thing immediately jumped out at me: There were so many bystanders, well, just standing around.
So many people there, but so few helping…
The video showed injured people laying all over, some blood, and apparently uninjured people everywhere. But few were even trying to help those that had been injured, and even fewer seemed to have a clue what they were doing. And no, asking “Are you ok?” when someone is injured doesn’t help. Holding their hand while they have internal bleeding, extensive bone fractures, or massive blood loss doesn’t count as “doing something.” I mean really doing something: holding pressure on bleeds, taking vitals, triage of the wounded. Real things that can actually make a difference during these events.
So let me ask, if you were there where a terrorist attack happened, would you be able to help? Have you been trained to decide who is the most critical and needs to be on the first ambulances out of there? Have you learned how to use a tourniquet to control arterial bleeding, or if there isn’t one in your first aid kit (because you do have a first aid kit, right?) could you at least improvise one? Do you know how to take vitals, or how to identify which vital signs are important and which can wait until later?
If you haven’t learned, then why not?
Medical skills, whether that’s EMT or Paramedic courses, a first responder class, or even basic CPR lessons all provide valuable skills. Triage training taught me how to prioritize events in life, to figure out the order of importance for everything before starting any one thing. MCI (mass casualty incident) training showed me how to stay calm and take control in emergencies. Learning documentation and paperwork demonstrated the importance of paying attention to the small details and keeping track of everything, especially important in my career as a chemist. But the most important thing I learned was what to do in an emergency when someone is hurt.
So go get some training. In an emergency, knowing what to do is what separates those that can make a difference from the bystanders.