What I Never Would Have Dreamed

This whole last year has been an amazing growing experience for me. I’m doing things now that I never would have imagined just five short years ago. Five years ago, I never could have imagined myself as part of the EMS world, but the decision to join Battle Creek Fire Department has sparked such an interest in the fire and EMS world, much more than I had when I initially joined, and I’ve discovered an excitement about this that I’ve rarely experienced in other endeavors. The learning process, the training, the challenges have been exhilarating, as well as the dynamic nature of all of it. I’ve also loved the camaraderie and real sense of family in the EMS and fire world. I didn’t know when I joined that I was gaining 40 brothers and sisters.  Well, this last Sunday, I finished a nine-day Wilderness First Responder class/certification in Spearfish, through NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, a class that caught my eye more than a year ago and I was fortunate to be able to take this year. Thrilled, actually. It was a fantastic class, exhausting, fast-paced, demanding, and an amazing experience. We had class for nine days straight, 8am-5pm, plus two evening sessions which went until 10pm or 10:30. The class time was split between lectures, demonstrations, hands-on practice, and scenarios. Scenarios for me were the most helpful, where all that we’d learned was brought together in a cohesive manner, with some people acting as patients, briefed on their incident, symptoms, etc., and the remaining people were the rescuers providing patient care. It may sound a little dorky, but believe me, this method of learning works so well for incident- and people-based skills. The first couple of days, the scenarios were awkward, as all of us were still rather uncomfortable with the idea of role-playing patients or rescuers. But by midweek, we had all settled in and thoroughly enjoyed the scenarios, finding them both fun and immensely helpful. We may or may not have had a few Oscar-worthy performances, which lent both a gravity and seriousness to the situations, as well as (ironically) humor. We learned more in nine days than I would have thought possible, the premise of the class being patient care and survival in the back country. We were taught how to improvise care when you may be hours or days away from front country medicine, how to assess patients, care for potentially spinally injured patients and safely move and examine them, how to manage traumatic injuries, wounds, fractures, chest and lung injuries, head injuries, cold and heat illness, altitude illness, allergic reactions, CPR, and my list could go on. I was blown away by what we learned, some of which I knew in theory but had never had the hands on practice (and practice and more practice) that this class provided. This class was a great confidence builder, and I look forward to being able to use what I learned about patient care and to interact more confidently on calls with Battle Cree Fire Department. And given the amount of time I spend outdoors in wilderness settings, I know I’ll have greater peace of mind and confidence in that regard as well, to be able to take care of myself, people I’m with, or people I come across who need help.

Probably the highlight of the class was a night mock-rescue, held at a wilderness area outside of Spearfish. It was a great experience, and just plain fun. Everyone had a blast, in spite of the cold and being bone tired. The end of the nine days of classes came too fast, and yet was very welcome when it came. One of our instructors said that this class was one of the more close-knit of all the WFR classes he has taught, and I can definitely attest to the closeness and the friendships that were forged over those nine short days. We worked together, laughed together, cried together, and supported and encouraged one another through an intense nine days of training.

This whole experience falls into the category of those things I never knew to dream up, but God in His goodness has opened doors to endeavors that have brought joy in ways I never knew were possible. When I think back five years, or ten years, about what I was pursuing and how I was pursuing it, and when I think about where God has me now, I am so thankful. It isn’t perfect, in a worldly sense. There are things that, if left up to me, I’d try to make better. There are many areas in which I’d like to see growth. But God has been showing me over and over again that He truly is in control of my life, and knows what is best for me, providing beyond my needs, simply because He is that good.


3 thoughts on “What I Never Would Have Dreamed

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