Work had a lot of bug triage today among other things but then after work I went off to the 3rd of 6 classes in the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team training. It was triage day at NERT class too. We got a video on pandemic flu, the gist of which was, wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough (hilarious electronic music, closeups of a person coughing, freeze, zoom in, turn it to photo negative or some wacky filter effect, cut to other person giving serious side eye to the coughing person as if plague was leaping right the hell out of their mouth!) Then START – Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment. We went over some examples and then some people went out of the room to prep to be the rescue team and 20 others went up on stage (or whatever you call it at the front of a church) and arranged themselves artistically as disaster victims. The rescue team then came in to check them and tag them with triage tape (remembering to tear off a bit and pocket it for each person to record how many were triaged to where.) I will probably do some online practices for START triage (there seem to be lots of them!)
I enjoy the class as a sort of meta thing to think about, how they came up with the most basic possibly useful things to get across. Like 24 hours of basic training but for this very specific temporary purpose. What do you choose to teach? Is there any hope of cramming something useful into random people’s heads? Will it stick? In a disaster I think the more official first responders would want to mobilize whoever seemed useful and on the ball and was on the spot. But, between the first days of whatever it is, and the time when Red Cross/National Guard or whoever get there, maybe this program becomes useful, and/or, maybe it attracts and sucks in the sort of people who want to help and meddle but might without some direction be more likely to rush in and get killed. So it serves that purpose too (to kind of soak up those people.) It’s also interesting to think about which principles from this training are applicable in general, in less extreme circumstances, as … assessing a situation and basic leadership skills I suppose.
Humorous incident, which I will mildly obscure in the world’s longest paragraph, no one patted me THIS TIME (the training is full of nice church ladies who like to pat a wheelchair user and fuss about them pointlessly) but during the 10 minute break I laid down in the little nook of a pew where I was sitting with Danny and Ada and my feet on Ada’s lap, reading stuff on my phone and playing pokemon (feeling tired from my long day and because I have a sinus headache) I knew this would be likely to happen but it doesn’t make it any more fun when it does, one of the Nice Ladys came wittering up to “check if I was okay and needed any help” OK so, number one, I’m sentient and know if I need something or not and would do something about it if I did; number two I’m obviously there with my family and what kind of assholes would they be to just like, ignore me if I were … fainting or dying or something? In actuality she was partly bothered that I was doing something a bit unusual that I should not be doing (lying down in the pew) and partly just unable to deal with her own basic discomfort for my being there at all, which is super obvious and annoying to me but not always visible to others. And she wanted also to perform her role of authority figure in some way, at me, as a result. Like the other lady who kept patting me the first two days (who hate-whispered “you’re WELcome!” at me when I didn’t act right when she told me my bag was on the ground or something – which I actually did say thank you but i didn’t like, SMILE I guess, because I was recoiling from her touch) she didn’t like that I didn’t respond correctly (with the right sort of performative gratitude and kowtowing and probably also not the right sort of self deprecating middle class white lady femininity) Because I kinda looked her up and down a little bit too long before saying, “Well you’re certainly super ready for an emergency!” with chirpy sarcasm. “I just had to make sure that you’re alright blah blah” (Yes I understand I’m being scolded.) “I’m just lucky you didn’t whip out a tourniquet!” and I start cracking up. “Witter witter witter twitter whisp oh well *breathes heavily* it’s just so GREAT that you’re HERE and THANK you for BEING here and we UNLOCKED the DOOR for you over by the RAMP this time I mean we are really GLAD to have you HERE, THANKS” (Remembering Suzette Haden Elgin’s explanations of that speech emphasis pattern as hostility.) Yes… yes i’m sure it took like twelve committee meetings to achieve that dangerous miracle of unlocking the side door which the 15 year old independently went in to unlock for me the first two nights of class; it took about 3 seconds to do… I waited a few beats too long again to let her just work it all out of her system and finally said “Yup well thank you for organizing things.” I mean…. go thank all the other people in here! Fuck… this is why I never like to be part of anything organized unless it is a bunch of fucked up anarchists.
But I am great in a disaster, so go figure. Hope the patting committee spins its wheels for like the next year trying to build Awareness of Helping The Disabled. (Too tired to come up with hilarious acronym for it.)
The firefighters and EMTs on the other hand are just great. A+ for them. They don’t act weird. They have probably met a wheelchair user before and had a normal human conversation.