Archive for September, 2013

I have spent time this week preparing to teach an undergraduate earth science lab at one of our local universities. My background includes a two-year diploma in adult education, so it is enjoyable to be getting back into the education world. A friend and I were discussing the concept of ‘teachable moments’ last week and our conversation brought to mind one of the more striking examples I experienced over the years.

I was taking a first aid course as part of my job requirements. The instructor was an ex-military gentleman. You immediately got the sense that firstly, he knew his subject and secondly, he took the matter seriously. This was a re-certification course for me so I was expecting the standard approach to the subject – they show the movie where “Johnny is anxious to get his new table saw going …”, and you guess the inevitable outcome.

This time, however, the instructor had a person come to the front and lay on a table. He then carefully positioned the person and described the scene; “You have come across this person. They have a serious wound to the head which is bleeding profusely. Their arm is not pointing in the right direction and their is blood seeping through their pants at the knee. What do you do?” He invited a person from the class to come to the front and explain how they would deal with the situation. The volunteer came up and started assessing the area, saying that they would attend to the bleeding by applying pressure to the wounds. The instructor didn’t say much as the person laid out their plan. At the end, the instructor asked, “are you satisfied with your approach?”. The person said, after reflecting for a couple of seconds, “yes”. The instructor then asked, “Is the patient breathing?”. The responder went a little pale and the instructor continued, “in fact, they haven’t been breathing since you arrived and the person is probably dead”. Wow … heads all over the room nodded and you could see the point had been made.

The instructor then asked for another volunteer patient and again positioned the person on the table. This time, the new responder began with checking the breathing and then continued the assessment. While the student was going over the patient’s injuries, the instructor took two large hardcover books. He quietly went behind the responder and then with a god almighty bang, slapped the books together. The responder jumped, as did the rest of us, and the responder choked out, “What?!”. The instructor just looked at him for a second and then quietly said, “You’re dead. Your patient is lying on a live 600 volt power line.”.

I have never forgot that one.


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