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Friday, 04 October 2019 14:15

More than just mountains

Written by

An ordinary Saturday

I’m a very ordinary dad and it was a very ordinary Saturday. As a bit of a treat my wife and I thought we’d take the kids to a local café for tea.

Team member Craig Scollick navigating during a callout

No sooner had we sat down than there was scream then a crash from the kitchen, next moment one of the kitchen staff came out and all we heard was ‘We need an ambulance straight away - the Clipper Café, Shaldon…’.

Lots of people do first aid courses and think they know about first aid. I know that until I joined Dartmoor Search and Rescue - Ashburton I really didn’t practice first aid often enough or use it frequently enough to be calm and competent when it was really needed. After joining the rescue team that all changed and there I was along with my team mates practicing and using first aid on a regular basis.

Six years ago, our team doctors increased all of our skill levels when they started teaching us the Mountain Rescue Casualty Care syllabus. Since then almost three-quarters of the team have been through the training and passed the exam. This autumn, some of us will be sitting the exam for the second time, something we have to do every 3 years.

Back to the café

Back to the café. I did what anyone from the rescue team would have done, I went to help. I reckoned it was a burn or a bleed, both of which we’d had lots of training on. What I found when I entered the kitchen wasn’t what I had expected, there on the floor was a young man probably in his early 20s fitting violently. He was being shaken further by his two colleagues trying to rouse him from his fit, all the while pans were boiling and sharp knives were precariously near the edges of the cooker and work surfaces.

Looking at the scene, seeing someone rhythmically convulsing, probably should have been upsetting but my overriding feeling was that of calm, I knew exactly was what happening, and what to do next. I moved the kitchen staff away from the young man and got them to clear away the sharps and hot liquid. I knew the fitting young man was having a grand mal epileptic fit, the duration of the fit was going to be important so I recorded the time and tried to minimise any damage he could cause himself until hopefully the fitting would subside. Fortunately, after several minutes the fitting did subside then it became a case of maintaining his airway and monitoring his pulse and breathing rate until the ambulance paramedics arrived.

By a strange coincidence, this situation had been a test scenario in a previous Casualty Care exam. I also looked for any medi alert bracelets and asked the other kitchen staff for the history of the incident. He had no history of epilepsy and this was his first fit. The paramedics arrived, I did a handover and the young man, still a little confused was taken off to hospital. A couple of weeks later I saw him back at work in the café.

I’m just an ordinary rescue team member, and I did what I’m sure every team member would have done. Indeed, most people in Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton have been presented with similar situations and have come forward to help, sometimes because they’ve been so calm and competent, they’ve even been asked if they were ‘medical’.

>So what’s the moral of this little story, Mountain Rescue – it’s more than just mountains.

Craig Scollick, Hill Party Leader

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