The day commenced with perhaps the most memorable part of the course: actual surgery (though of course not on humans). The medics practiced throat and chest tube insertions, suturing, fasciotomies, and amputations. Several of the instructors then demonstrated several more advanced procedures, in addition to giving detailed anatomy lessons.
Here, our devoted instructors prepare the medics for the first procedures
After lunch, Jess and Monica gave a lesson on splinting, followed by a review of anesthetics and nerve blocks by Jaime.
The medics were very attentive all week. The final day was a highlight: medics practicing in the animal lab the procedures on pigs. We started early in the morning while cool and finished before the flies arrived. The medics practiced surgical airways (crichothyrotomies and tracheostomies), chest tubes, fasciotomies, venous countdowns, and finally amputations. Each table had at 4-5 medics, at least one senior medic as the senior trainers, and one of our volunteer teachers. It was exciting to see their skills in action.
The teachers then did thoracotomies, pericardotomies, and laparotomies on their pigs.
While the animal lab was a bit sad for the pigs, it was the best way to teach these skills that the medics will be using to save lives. And the medics and staff were thrilled to have all of the tasty pork.
Then we did more hands on training with plaster splints with Jess and Monica. Then anesthetic dosing and regional blocks with Jaime.
The medics then did their final test and all passed!
Then back in the evening for closing ceremonies, with heartfelt speeches by the coordinating trainer, Larry and Frank, and presentation of their certificates and pins. The medics were rightfully proud. The medics then hosted us to a grand pork feast!
The next morning half of us left at 4am for the airport. It was a long week with little sleep.
Mixed feelings now: Pleased and proud of the medics and the training. Sad to miss the medics, our fellow volunteers, and the profound feeling of being useful and appreciated.
Prior picture from the GHAP website of a trauma medic performing a jungle amputation after landmine injury using a Leatherman Multitool: