Saturday, July 21, 2007

The best day of medical school ever

Yesterday the med students and ER interns met at a state park on the shores of a lake. It was a lovely summer day, not too hot or humid (something we were very grateful for by the end of the day). We started off with a brief talk on wilderness medicine. One of the topics was how important duct tape is. The speaker said that part of the fun would be seeing how we would improvise with it during the exercises, but there wasn’t time to give the lecture on "formal" uses of duct tape. Looking forward to hearing that one someday.

We split up into groups of four and spent the afternoon running, biking, canoeing, and otherwise making our way from one checkpoint to another. At each checkpoint we had a medical emergency to manage, overseen by one of the instructors. At some stations one of the team would get a card with instructions on being the victim. They also brought one of the CPR simulator manikins. My team ("The Intubators") was all young guys--in fact, I was the only member of the group older than the average age of the group. So I wound up really having to push it to keep up with the young 'uns. And it was a race, so we had to make time both getting to the stations and efficiently managing the crises.

We started off running to where the bikes were, and before we even got there one of our group got "disoriented" and "belligerent" and had to stop. The director of the residency program was standing there with a clipboard to see how we managed heat stroke. Then we got on the bikes for a five-mile ride interrupted by a bow hunting accident (yes, as we pulled up the paramedic handed one of us an arrow!) and a broken shoulder/arm. We used our multipurpose tool to perform a thoracostomy on the arrow victim, then made a one-way flutter valve out of duct tape for the wound. We also used much duct tape over the course of the day for splints.

As soon as we got off the bikes we had to deal with a woman who had been run over by an SUV in the parking lot. By this time we were starting to feel the pain, and it was getting a bit harder to focus on proper medical management. Which was the point, of course. The woman died, unfortunately, but there was no time to linger--we had to run down to the beach to deal with a diving accident. The victim was floating face down in the water with a possible C-spine injury.

After getting the diver to shore on a back board we had to cross the lake with two guys in a canoe and two in a paddleboat (because you never know what you'll have available in a real emergency). Turns out it's very frustrating trying to cross a lake in a paddleboat when you're in a race--they're maddeningly slow. On the other side we came across a dramatic scene. The instructors said that a sudden storm had come up. There was a flash of lightning and two young boys were lying on the ground up the road, one of them not breathing. We ran over, making our plan for two-man teams, but when we got there we found a third victim behind a tree. The victims were played by the sons of one of the people in the department and they did a great job. The boys had a great time as we performed "CPR" and splinted them.

We had to bushwhack up a hill to the next scene. At the top we dealt with a broken leg. We had to splint it and then carry the guy 100 yards. Unfortunately the chosen victim in this scenario was the biggest guy on our team. Finally we ran back down the hill, got back in the boats (we didn't have a proper place to land and had to lower the canoe four feet into the water, during which the canoe tipped and dumped me in the lake), and crossed the lake back to the finish line.

When we got back there was food and beer, and then they read the results. Each of the six teams' times were announced, along with penalties (such as 2 minutes added for making a mistake in managing a trauma). We came in second place (six minutes out of first place--if we hadn't tipped the canoe we would have won!). There were also awards for things like Best Splint. I got a best acting award for my portrayal of a clavicle and humerus fracture. Everyone agreed that this had pretty much been the best day of medical school for all involved.

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At July 21, 2007 at 5:48 PM , Anonymous Tom Bourne said...

Great day Ben, I hope your experiences hiking many moons ago helped prep you for it! Maybe for the huffing and puffing parts at least... I Linked to this entry at the Grand Canyon hikers site:

Tom B

At July 21, 2007 at 7:18 PM , Blogger Tom said...

Where can I get an "Intubators" baseball cap or other "Intubators" merch?

The training sounds so realistic but where is the mention of the simulated health insurance?


At July 21, 2007 at 8:23 PM , Blogger kirelimel said...

That sounds very cool. But did any of the emergencies require urine? I hear it comes in handy in survival type situations.

At March 17, 2008 at 5:02 AM , Blogger Julia said...

Dang, what was I doing that day? I must have been taking the Neuro final. DEFINITELY not as fun. Great post!


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