AlejAndro Anastasio has a web site titled One Hand Speaks. On November 14, 2017 I blogged about listening to his podcast. Starting on January 1st of this year he is writing 40 blogs about his 30 podcasts. To celebrate that I have a one-handed story to tell him and you from four decades ago.
Back in the seventies (1972 – 1978) I was a medic in the Air Force Reserve. For the last year I worked one weekend a month in the hospital at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit. On a Saturday morning in early summer both the Tactical Hospital unit I belonged to and the corresponding Air National Guard unit were sharing that same old red brick hospital building.
That Air Guard was doing a disaster exercise. Back on September 11, 2012 I blogged about Disasters and triage. Now, it is very hard to make an exercise seem real. You need to shake people out of their mindset that This Isn’t Real – It’s Only a Drill.
In that blog post I mentioned an exercise I’d gone through in tech school down in Texas. They set the scene up as a plane crash after sundown – in a cow pasture outside of Burkburnett. We got dropped off the back of a truck and told to run over a hill. There was a broken fuselage lit only by burning jet fuel. A bunch of ‘victims’ were made up with realistic looking prefabricated rubber wounds or burns – a branch of special effects known as moulage. Some were moaning, and others were screaming. It smelled, sounded, and looked real.
But how would you make your ‘disaster’ seem real on a sunlit morning? One of the guardsmen had a teen-aged cousin I will call George. His right arm stopped above the elbow. George came out to Selfridge with his cousin. He had volunteered to be the first ‘victim’ the medics would encounter. George wore a tank top and shorts, and they made his right arm up as a fresh amputation. It looked startlingly real, so it worked beautifully.
His cousin took George around the hospital to show my reserve unit their makeup masterpiece. George was grinning from ear to ear. He said this had been more fun than he’d ever had on Halloween.
The military ambulance image came from Wikimedia Commons.