On Saturday 7 November the RATS (NZRT1) team entered a group of four members in the annual Services Waterhouse first aid competition. This competition is for navy, army, and air force first aid medics to battle their skills with each other. Fifteen teems competed in the competition and this was the first year in recent history that a civilian team has been invited to compete in it.
We went into the competition knowing that we were going to get tested on our first aid skills from a military perspective. A day before the competition we got the Joint Services Health School first aid manual in which we discovered some new acronyms and first aid techniques that are more combat related than what we would normally be used to.
The competition consisted of six activities. The first for us was a Team Test in a tactical situation. We were confronted with a urban situation with about ten people who had been injured by an enemy force. As we started to treat and evacuate these casualties we came under fire ourselves via a rather aggressive paint ball firing enemy soldier. We were able to give ourselves some cover with the use of a smoke grenade but this did not last long. In the end we managed to evacuate four casualties, and treated the others on site. From this scenario we went to an earthquake simulation with about sixteen injured people. There was great use of make up here including a person who had sheep guts and blood on them to simulate a major injury. Then next two stations were a theory test and CPR. The theory test was particularly nasty with loud music and TV movies playing and other distractions mixed in with the questions that were displayed on a screen. The second to last scenario had our team split in two with one team needing to deal with a super severe bleeding person and a sucking chest wound in a hot dark room and the other team having to deal with some other bleeders on the back of a moving, over rough ground, Unimog. Our last test involved a stretcher carry over a (simulated) mine field and rough ground. We quickly discovered that deviating, by accident, from the correct path resulted in losing a team member. One part of this involved getting the stretcher under a cargo net that was over some water with out drowning our patient.
By the end of the day we were all pretty sore and tired but had a really great day. We all learnt heaps from the different scenarios and would approach each scenario in a completely different way if we were to encounter it again. Over all we did not feature anywhere near the winners, but in saying this in some parts we beat other teams who would have been expected to do better.
Next year the competition will be held in the North Island possibly with another invite to a civilian team to take part if there is a space.