Archive for the 'Combat Medic Specialist Training' Category

Hospital Attachment

The hospital attachment was quite boring. I elected to stay in the treatment room administering ECG (or watching the nurses do ECG), cleaning and dressing wounds. I even had the opportunity to administer the nebulizer to one asthmatic patient. Nonetheless, it was very eye opening. It has proved one thing: that everything that SAF teaches is a farce. The things are taught inside do not correspond with what I see in a public hospital. To a certain degree, at least.

Ah, the only good thing about the hospital is the girls.

I spent only one day out of three in the hospital, because I took MC for the other two days. My staff sergeant was suspicious about my MC. He thought I was just bored. In any case, I was on attend B for the whole of last week. I was afflicted with fever, headache, bodyache, sore throat, cough, green sputum and breathlessness. I must have caught something bad at the hospital. Medication didn’t seem to help much. The antibiotics were completely ineffective.

I went to see a neighbourhood GP on Saturday. Then I actually saw the MO in-camp twice, after that. On the second time he finally gave me some pills, but then he remarked that they weren’t of much use.

MO: Ok, these are lozenges for you to suck on. But since they are from SAF, they won’t really help.
Me: Err, Yes Sir.

I was struggling to breathe for most of the week. Fortunately I didn’t take part in the PT. No route march either, because it was cancelled!

On Saturday I went to see Speed Racer with Kirk and Yeo Kent Lee. What a great show! We had kopi at Joo Seng after that. I came home quite late this morning.

Ambulance Attachment

I was attached to Sengkang Fire Station for an ambulance attachment for Tuesday and Wednesday. Fortunately we get to stay out.

There wasn’t much of a briefing or welcome when I arrived at the station. The moment they changed shifts I jumped into the action. Monday, 0800h, was my first call. It was a case of chest pain. Relatively uncomplicated. Then more and more cases started to flow in as the day passed. On Monday I had two cases of chest pain, one case of routine transport from the old folks’ home, one case of fall from height, and one road traffic accident. The accident case was the closest I have ever seen. Plenty of broken glass and metal everywhere. Apparently this car full of polytechnic kids hit a tree and flipped over a few times. Amazingly the driver and two backseat passengers only had light injuries. The front passenger however had lots of bleeding.

The night shift one was quite exciting. I had two unconscious cases, one case of fractures, one case of chest pain, and last one: one case of 6-months pregnant lady with multiple seizures. My God! We really had difficulty with this case. Luckily I didn’t get kicked in the face! But there was one cock-up for that case: I left the jumpkit at the patient’s house. Oh crap! But never mind, we went back to get it after the case.

The paramedic’s life is tough. Your meals come at odd hours. And the bloody hospital food is so expensive. I didn’t really do much during these two days (or sleep much), but I did see a lot of cases. Some of my friends complained of not having any cases. This experience was really eye-opening. I even managed to put some of my skills into use. But as forewarned, they were quite unorthodox in their methods. I hope I don’t apply any bad habits for next week’s test.

Tomorrow we go to Changi General Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department. I hope it will turn out okay.

Artist in the ambulance

Tomorrow will be the first time I step into a SCDF ambulance. This week we are posted out to various fire stations and hospital Accident and Emergency departments. On Tuesday and Wednesday I will be at Sengkang Fire Station. Thursday will be my off day. I will report to Changi General Hospital on Friday to Sunday.

I’m really not sure of what to expect. There is this feeling of excitement, yet a certain dread. Today our course commander remarked, ‘Gentlemen, in this line, we always say “No business is good business.” I somewhat think he is right. But I’m sure it will be an eye-opening experience.

Damn, I hope that my skills don’t fail me when the time comes.

I’ve had Saturday duty for the past two weeks. It is very draining. I spent most of Sunday asleep at home. On 26 April I attended Solemn Vespers and Benediction at SJI International’s chapel. It is a very nice place. Modern in design, yet faithful to rubric. Vespers was according to the extraordinary rite. The priests presiding were Fr Anthony Ho and Fr Augustine Tay. Wonderful, we should have this more often! Unfortunately, there are many people who rather see all this done away.

I have been missing Legion meetings for a long time, due to circumstances beyond my control. One week I was ill; another I had to attend a wedding; and for two weeks I have weekend duty. I will miss this week’s one because of the attachment. I feel bad for letting Joycelyn do all the work. Hang in there, girl!

I hate how these little things add to my confusion over my future plans. And how do we plan for tomorrow if we are not sure what comes? This is one thing that has always vexed me: uncertainty. It’s all very easy to say, ‘Let us have faith.’, but it’s harder than one can think. I have been vexed over many things in the past weeks. For instance, recently I’ve had friends in distress, yet my consoling and advice didn’t seem to help much. The only thing I could do is pray. I was also frustrated with my attachment to certain ideas, which I am trying to get rid off. Then my old habits all come into play as well. I am increasingly afraid that my aspiration is nothing but fantasy. Maybe I’m thinking too much. I don’t know. I often drift from a state of not thinking to thinking too much.

Angels preserve us!

Accidents and Medical Emergencies and You

There have been several reports in the local newspapers in the past week, documenting several deaths. One was the death of a 23 year old young man who had cardio-respiratory failure. There was another report of a Malaysian woman choking to death on a biscuit. And who can forget the horrific accident that wiped out four members of a Catholic family, leaving only their 2 month old daughter?

There could have been more ways to help the casualties. For example, if CPR was administered to the young man before the ambulance crew arrived, he might have survived. In the case of the lady, they managed to fish out the debris from the mouth, but the article did not mention if the airway was totally cleared or if artificial ventilation was provided.

Unfortunately, accidents and emergencies occur everyday. What is our response to these? Let’s say one day you are walking along the street, when a man collapses in front of you? What will you do? Some will help, some will not. Some want to help, but are incapable. Some are able to, but do not want to. For most of us it’s not our problem, until one day it hits home. By then it will be too late to regret the loss of our loved ones.

I read another article which is quite heartening (pun intended), there is a First Aid Corps being set up in Marine Parade GRC. The three volunteers are trained in the use of the Automatic External Defibrillator. Some Community Development Councils also conduct CPR courses for residents. I think Mum went for one of those a few months back. I think these are good steps for making people more prepared for emergencies. We should all take some time off to learn some simple first aid, CPR if possible. If we are more prepared, we won’t panic so much when disaster strikes.

By some coincidence, a few days ago we had lessons and tests on CPR, Choking and AED. That means we are trained to assist in such emergencies. I hope my fellow medics and I will have the courage to help in such incidents when we are outside. And we hope like hell that none of us will screw up the rescue! It is clear that there are two requirements in such a situation: Competence and Courage. We must possess the necessary skills to help out, in order to prevent further harm to the patient. We must also have the daring, to help without any hesitation.

But let us not forget about spiritual matters. Death is so untimely and unpredictable. Let us prepare our souls for its arrival.

May the Holy Angels preserve us!

Medics all are we…

The 46th Basic Section Leader Course ended on 4th March 2007. We marched 28km through the night from Kranji War Memorial to Kranji Dam, then through Lim Chu Kang, then back to SISPEC. It was very tiring. There were a lot of people falling out from my company. I struggled to keep up the pace. After resting for a few minutes, we marched onto the parade square for the Passing Out Parade. We would remain there for another thirty minutes with full battle order. Most of us were cursing when the reviewing officer took his time to give his very ‘short’ speech. Putting everything down after the parade was a great relief for the shoulders of all.

And on the arms, new chevrons. Now we were all corporals, destined for more advanced training elsewhere. My buddy Yi Qing got sent to the Air Force as a Weapons Operator. I was sent to SAF Medical Training Institute (SMTI) at Nee Soon Camp as a Combat Medic Specialist. Deo Gratias! The vocation I wanted exactly.

The course is not easy; there are so many things to study. I have enough textbooks to fill my field pack! The practical aspect is also challenging. On my first IV practical, I attempted 4 IVs before succeeding. Last week I improved by 1. I hope I can reduce that and succeed in one try.

Things are quite different from SISPEC. There isn’t any 5BX. It’s so slack, that many of us have elected to do our own training at night. Nee Soon camp has many slopes to run up. We do have this weird ‘Total Body Workout’ on Monday, and Wednesdays I think. It’s like Boxercise. It looks very lame.

The bunks are quite cramped compared to SISPEC. The first week we were on the sixth floor. Elevator usage was forbidden. In the second week we were moved to the third floor. On Thursday we were moved to the ninth floor, in order to make way for an new intake of two hundred combat medics. Fortunately, they allow us to use the lifts now. And, we get to use two-man bunks meant for Medical Officer Cadets. Somehow, I think I’m going to feel claustrophobic. I will let you know over the week.

As SISPEC graduates they expect a lot from us. Initiative and Discipline; the usual suspects. Regimentation is quite mad in here. They don’t allow sleeping during breaks. They don’t even allow smoking during the day. Why, the smokers in SISPEC were puffing away like no one’s business.

Duties are aplenty. I have done two guard duties already this week. There is also the Barrack Orderly where you are supposed to sleep in the Orderly room on the ground floor, and serve as firefighters. Pray that you won’t get fire drill. There is a dearth of drink machines in Nee Soon camp. The other day my prowling buddy and I were trying to find a drink machine during prowling. Argh, almost as difficult as locating the checkpoint itself.

The good thing about this place is that bookout is on Friday. I sure could use those extra hours to recover from the monotony of the work week. Nevertheless I’m enjoying this place so far!

SAF Medical Corps Song

Medics all are we, the medics of the field.
We help the wounded and the sick, the brave who will not yield.
Our hearts we give, our skills we share.
With valour, pride and will!
No matter when, we’re battle ready,
the medics of the field!


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Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us

Stella Matutina, ora pro nobis

Our Lady of Perpetual Succor, pray for us

St Michael the Archangel, pray for us

St Jude, pray for us

St Benedict, pray for us

St Dominic, pray for us

St Anthony, pray for us