Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round

I'm going to stray over into the EMS part of my life for a moment or two.

Breathing is good. Not breathing, on the other hand, does not usually do good things for your complexion. That, and it tends to upset the people around you.

Most of those people have one task when you stop breathing: get help. Around these parts, that means to call 9-1-1.

Some people choose to learn to do more than that.

When I was about 8 years old, I took my first "First Aid" class. I learned what was then called "mouth-to-mouth resuscitation." Sometimes called the "breath of life," or, especially for making younger folks uncomfortable, the "kiss of life."

A good thing to know, all in all. If someone stops breathing, breathe for them.

The thing is, all that breathing isn't going to do any good if there is no blood circulating.
The next step to learn is how to do chest compressions. Which I learned as a teenager.

What is my point, here?

Learning is not always linear. It may seem that way, at times. But if you REALLY want to learn something, what happens is that you learn it over and over and over again, reviewing the basics and re-learning them at a higher level of understanding, and a higher level of skill.

Imagine a spiral staircase, where as you climb, you keep returning to the same side, at a higher level each time around. Learning is like that.

So the bottom of that spiral staircase might be "call 9-1-1"
The next level might be mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Next time around, add compressions.

I recertified in CPR several times. Each time, re-learning the skill. Some of it was the same, and some changed, as the general understanding, and the protocols, of CPR changed. Fairly recently, AEDs became available, so that was added.

I decided to become a CPR instructor. What was the first thing I did in the instructor class?
Recertified in CPR.

Not long after, I started an EMT-Basic class.
The first thing we did?
Recertified in CPR.
This time, with a few added twists- CPR for the professional rescuer.

Then, as the class progressed, we learned some new airway management skills, because we would have access to different airway management tools. Adjuncts. Oxygen. Bag-valve-masks. We're at a higher level on that spiral staircase now.

Now, I'm taking an EMT-Intermediate class. What are we going to do?
No kidding. Recertify in CPR.

Then we'll get to add some more tools, tools and techniques an EMT-B doesn't have. The big one: intubation.

I'm certain that if I take another class after this one, either the Critical Care class, or the Paramedic class, CPR will be there again. And more tools, too, but I don't know yet what all of those are.

My point is this: all of this is basically the same thing. If someone is not breathing, breathe for them. If their heart isn't pumping, pump their blood for them.
Each time I recertify, or review it, I'm not "going back" to where I was before. Re-visiting, yes. But not going backwards.

There is no going backwards.

Everything in life follows this pattern. It's all cyclical. Emergency medicine. Fencing. Relationships.

So if it feels like you are "stuck" doing the same thing over and over, that some things take forever to learn, or it feels like you've been working on something for a long time, and you're still at the basics, look deeper.

Maybe you know more than you think.
Maybe you're higher up on that staircase than where you started.

And some things, life-or-death things in particular, can never be reviewed too often, or practiced too much.

1 comment:

GreenJello said...

That has got to be one of the most profound images of learning I've ever encountered.

Somehow, though, I don't suspect we'll ever reach the top of that staircase. :)