Back when I was in primary school, we used to have a Future Careers Day, a day when all students will dress up according to their ambitious careers. I’d always begged my elder sister to lend me her thermometer or stethoscope to take with me to school. Growing up with two elder siblings as medical students greatly motivated me to choose a carrier in the healthcare field.
At the age of 11, I signed up to join a local volunteer first aid group. It’s a sort of boys scout group where members learn of basic first aid skills like use of a tourniquet to stop bleeding, emergency help to victims of animals bite, etc. It has always been my interest to be a lifesaver just as I’d always watched cartoons of superheroes. At the age of 16, I won a scholarship that sponsored me for an international exchange program. I traveled to a country with advance medical facilities and technology that surpassed my home-country. Without hesitation there, I chose courses that could prepare me for my future ambition of medical education. I joined a medical procedure class; it was a course that taught me on basic life support. I learned about cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AED), etc. Now as a preclinical medical student, I only have learnt about the basics so far. Nevertheless, I’d to be grateful for the opportunities I got during my primary and secondary schools. It’s that which has given me the courage to face life emergencies that I came across especially in the past 2 years.
The complicated thing about emergencies is that they always happen unpredicted and in an unspecified way. It’s left for the healthcare staff present to think outside the box in the shortest time possible to save that precious life lying down on the ground. At such dreadful moment, it’s only a sharp line between life and death of the patients. Anything done could rightly affect a patient positively or otherwise. So it’s critical that any procedure practiced is in the best way possible.
When faced with an emergency medical case as a medical student; be it at home, school or even at a supermarket, the first thing I try to remember is that it happens I was at the environment not by accident but to be there as someone’s savior. So I’ll have to whisper this to my brain to activate it in the most calm way. I’d to let the adrenaline flows but at a steady rate and I always tell myself that I might just be the most knowledgeable person at that place when it comes to medical aspect. Indirectly, I’m telling myself that the life of the patient depends on how right I did the procedure before the arrival of paramedics and so I’d to be exceptionally calm. These thought usually ignites my judgement center into work and thus helps me in making a prompt decision and preparing me mentally for the job that lies before me. I repeatedly whisper to myself to be calm! This is to set up a coordination between my mind and hands. This gives me the courage and readiness to dive into the actual life saving techniques.
On the other hand, preparing physically is the hardest part as that depends on the environment where such emergencies occurred. There could be instances where there is no first aid kit around or worse there’s no other person to help in stabilizing the patient. Even in this kind of scenarios, it’s of utmost importance for a medical student to rise above their fears and stay calm. Calling for help using the national emergency number and then securing the environment should be a priority. Some emergencies might occur around dangerous areas like on the road or around heavy machinery; remembers to always keep one’s self and the patients away from danger. Once the environment is secured, check for vital signs like consciousness, breathing and heartbeat. Also check for any traumas especially to the head. Reach out for a first aid kit if available or some other improvise materials if the kit is not available. Roll up your sleeves or heavy clothing that might obstruct in the process of CPR. Bring an AED device around if available or ask someone to do so. These steps are important in physical preparation for performing any life saving techniques.
To close on all the preparations, a medical student has to compose themselves first before attending to the patient. Remember to conquer any fear immediately and dive into saving lives in shortest time possible. Think of the words of appreciation that you’ll get from those patients if they happen to make it after such emergencies. Do not be overzealous and remember to ask for others help even if they are not medically educated; they can help in bringing this and that tool for you. I believe these steps when done effectively would prepare a medical student, even those with less clinical experience like myself to do their best in performing life saving techniques for patients in a state of pain. Do remember that it’s what you’ve been trained for and so do your best to show that training in a real-life scenario. You’re there for a reason; that is to be the patient’s savior before the arrival of help!