Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fun, Games at County-Mandated CPR Training

My favorite part about being employed is getting to walk through those mysterious little back doors you see in every place of business. What lies beyond those mysterious portals? Other than employee break rooms and old refrigerators? Nothing's so thrilling about a new job as is walking down the service stairs and entering a world known only to a select few.

If I didn't evaluate potential jobs by the presence of 'Employees Only' signs, I'd probably make a lot more money.

So this summer, I'm working as a camp counselor at Riverbend Park. There's a very nice employee break room and we also get to use the back entrance at the nature center. There's a whole room beneath the building stuffed with art supplies. But seeing as how we're working with children, it's only appropriate we all get CPR certified. Actually, it's the law.

This show discusses Game of Thrones more than I actually have at my job. This saddens me. 
When I arrive at the CPR seminar, held in the charmingly picturesque nature center, I find one of the county safety instructors freaking out at the sight of a charmingly picturesque spider, which is silly, because that spider isn't even on the 'Venomous Animals' page of our county-mandated safety guides. The other instructor  directs me to sign in, and I run through the old mental game of whether I should put down 'Liz' or 'Elizabeth'. Behind me, the fishing instructors are talking about the fish they caught that morning and the fish they want to catch when the seminar is over. I sit next to one of the park naturalists, who is probably the only person I've ever met who is actually named Rita. Since Italian ice is my favorite thing in the entire universe (besides Game of Thrones), I wind up salivating every time someone calls her name.

The instructors tell us to go over to the dummies they've set up to practice giving chest compressions. I make the obligatory joke about it being kinder to let the dummies slip away, since they're missing all their limbs and half their torsos. No one laughs. And that one always killed in TJ PE! But I kneel down besides my dummy anyway, on my county provided knee-pad. I assume those just magically appear whenever someone collapses with a stopped heart.

I pound on the dummy's chest so hard my sunglasses flop down onto my face and my ring cuts into my fingers. Nevertheless, the little LEDs in the dummy's chest flash red, which I assume is dummy for "I'm dying, you idiot!" The instructor has to correct my hand placement five times before it starts to flash green. I notice the dummies have skin tones from all different races, but all share the same dead face. The instructor keeps an extra face in her bag, the sight of which makes me want to scrub off my neurons with bleach.
Maybe she could lend it to him?
Then we get to practice breathing through a rescue mask, another handy piece of equipment I will totally remember how to use during an emergency. Afterwards, we get to rub off the dummies's dead faces with rubbing alcohol, because we haven't suffered enough. The instructor points out that we shouldn't give mouth-to-mouth to anyone who's vomiting. I totally agree.

Then we move on to the AEDs, the cool little machines where you have to say "Clear!" and then make sure everyone is actually clear before you press the shock button. The instructor shows us how to stick the pads on someone's chest. I note that every demonstration figure is male and wince while asking what to do if the patient is an extremely large breasted woman.

"It's not always going to be a large breasted woman," the instructor points out, and then gives us a nice explanation about lifting up rolls of fat that, you know, I really didn't need to hear.

My notes at this point say "Don't use AEDs on mules gnats or if he's in a band." It's eleven, I'm tired, and I'm still freaking out over the Game of Thrones season finale. Let's see what other gems come from me not being able to understand my own handwriting: "Spook the snake watches . . ." Oh, wait, there's a snake in that building named Spook who was watching us as we practiced giving the Heimlich to baby dolls. Apparently, you can roll the baby from one hand to the other by firmly gripping its head. It's a very professional and terrible thing to do.

The instructor finishes the workshop by grabbing the baby dolls by the legs and throwing them into bags. I suppose it's a mark of my preparedness as a camp counselor that I didn't even flinch.

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