On Wednesday 1 June, a group of Year 10 students - including myself - gathered onto a bus, on our way to the Gold Coast University Hospital. We were all thoroughly warned that the content of the discussions we would be having would be confronting, but we (as the infallible fifteen-year-olds we thought we were) argued that we could take it.
What could they be telling us that we hadn't already heard at a million different drug information lectures? How many ways could they warn us about the dangers of high-risk behaviour?
Apparently, more than we thought. The speakers we listened to detailed what would occur during a general day in the Trauma Response ward of the GCUH. As well as this, we were introduced to many people who had dealt with these situations first-hand, like the unbelievably compassionate and accommodating staff members, and Alex, the ex-patient of a motorbike crash.
One of the exercises we participated in required us to be given roles in an emergency room. I was given the task of team-leader, while my peers took over other assorted positions, each integral to the success of saving the life of our patient. The patient in question was a seventeen-year old boy from Somerset, who was brilliantly played by a resuscitation dummy. The medical assistants were divided into three groups. One group was required to perform compressions on the dummy, while attending to the heart rate monitor in the corner of the room, as the other two groups supervised the patient’s breathing, and attempted to deter the wounds on his ankles from bleeding. I can honestly say that I have gained an extraordinary appreciation for those who are able to cope in such a high-stress situation day after day. I already had a great respect for medical workers, but that day has absolutely solidified that admiration.
As well as these exercises (another one entailing getting dressed wearing a back brace and sling, in order to simulate the experience of somebody who has lost the ability to function, using these important parts of their body), we listened to some people who were still progressing through their rehabilitation journeys. Alex, whom I mentioned earlier, hit a tree while riding his motorbike, causing him to snap his pelvis (“in half, like a fortune cookie” was how he liked to describe it, in a well disposed manner) as well as pull all of the tendons out from his right shoulder, resulting in a loss of feeling in his entire arm. Despite all of the hardships and pain he was going through, it was so inspiring to see that he had not lost his sense of humour, as he demonstrated a love for an ironic joke at his own expense.
While there was the occasional laugh and joke to lighten the mood, I noticed that we all left with a far more sympathetic point of view. It's hard to be worried about trivial issues when there are people dealing with the trauma, both physical and psychological, like that of the people we met that day. I found myself in a conversation with one of the supervising teachers, discussing our mutual agreement that the hospital setting of the programme somehow seemed to make the whole experience just that much more real, as every room we passed in those identical, clean hallways housed a real person, with their own individual stories of pain and suffering, and their own deeply affected families.
I personally feel as though the programme was a really worthwhile experience, and I'm sure that my friends who joined me are of the same opinion. The excursion was immensely eye opening and really allowed me to put things into perspective – such as being truly thankful for my health and happiness. While it was very confronting at times, I'm sure that my peers can agree with me when I say that the things we spoke about that day helped us to genuinely understand that every decision we make has a consequence - whether good or bad - that can potentially change our lives forever. I would most definitely recommend this experience to any of the younger students. I undoubtedly feel as though my decision-making skills have changed as a product of this excursion and I am very thankful for this experience.
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