Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A nurse I am not ...

I'm bleeding. A lot. I'm bleeding and I'm in a war zone. As the blood pours from my arm, I feel a little faint. Not good. Suddenly, hands are everywhere and as the IV bag was attached, the blood flow stopped. Petty Officer 2nd Class Horvath gently held onto the catheter as he placed tape over the IV tubing to hold it in place and gave the instructor an expectant look. He'd successfully placed an IV in my arm.

Ok ... so I wasn't wounded, I was attending a Combat Life Saver Course (CLS) at Camp Eggers where several of my co-workers and I were learning how to place IV's, apply tourniquets and to observe and treat for shock. CLS, a 40-hour course designed to supplement combat medics in the field, was taught at our Combat Skills Training (CST) course at Fort Dix, N.J., however I didn't have the chance there. When I got to Camp Eggers, manning levels required that most of the public affairs staff be CLS qualified. I was certified in 2007 during my last stint at Fort Dix so most of the training was familiar. The only hard part was knowing that I was hurting my "patient."

In reality, if someone had to place an IV or treat a buddy in the field, the injured person probably wouldn't even feel the slight pinprick and burning sensation as the needle pierces the vein, but in the classroom setting, you're focused on your partner's every grimace. When my turn to administer the IV came around, I felt fairly comfortable, despite my victim's, I mean patient's, hard to find veins, but after the first unsuccessful attempt and what I thought were his very unmanly grimaces, I was a little nervous about the second attempt.
Hands shaking, I tried twice more, both times successfully entering the vein but not making a solid connection with the IV tube. Although it wasn't required to actually give the IV, I wanted to do the whole process from start to finish ... unfortunately, my partner had had enough. I had to find another willing patient. Luckily, our fearless co-worker, Petty Officer 3rd Class Putnam stepped in, and on the first try, I placed the catheter, attached the IV and hydrated my patient. Hopefully, as they say, practice makes perfect, and if the time ever comes when I'll need to help someone in the field, I'll be ready.


  1. Sarah you can hydrate me any time... LOL Wish you were in my CLS back in A25D... ;)~

  2. Sarah,
    So good to see you and that big smile of yours!! I'm happy that you lucked out on the new lodging and a indoor potty! That is very important stuff!! So who is that helping to save your life?....kind of cute?? I love the idea of a blog, especially where we can see pictures and you write so well (hence journalism) I get it!! I think of you often and pray for your safety. Thank you for doing what you do, it makes a marathon seem like a piece of cake!!
    Be safe and know you are missed!

  3. Good for you Sarah! Now we know who to call if we need an IV :)