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A shot at life-saving 101

My medical knowledge is limited to Band-Aids and Aspirin, but yesterday morning I saved a life.

My medical knowledge is limited to Band-Aids and Aspirin, but yesterday morning I saved a life.

Almost.

To celebrate National EMS Awareness Week, I was invited by Calgary Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to participate in ParamedicSkills. Various skill stations ran by EMS personnel introduced me to the tools and knowledge I would need for the final “super scenario.”

Outfitted in safety glasses, gloves and face mask, my first task was to insert a needle into a disturbingly life-like rubber arm.

Cindy Russell, EMT, made it look quick and easy. I couldn’t even tie the tourniquet the right way. I also missed the vein.

I then learned how to insert an intubation tube, although it took numerous attempts. Paramedic Crista Anderson patiently guided me until I figured out that the esophagus is not where a breathing tube belongs.

Armed with these new skills and more, I entered the Mobile Simulation Training Unit (MSTU) for the final test. “George,” a plastic doll, was in medical distress. Unable to breathe and in cardiac arrest, I needed to save him.

Although I was unable to resuscitate George, I did gain an insight into the stressful situations EMS faces every day. Not ready to join their ranks, I’ll continue applying bandages to minor wounds and let the experts handle the hard stuff.