Here at the South Pole, we have only two medical providers on station, a doc and me the PA. If we had multiple casualties or a critical patient who required 24 hour monitoring, the medical needs could easily overwhelm two people. Or if one of us fell ill, that would leave only one other person to try to manage a patient who could be quite sick or otherwise require a lot of time and care.
Earlier this winter I wrote a post about our trauma team where members of our crew go through training to learn how to be first responders to medical emergencies. We will also rely on some members to help us out with more advanced patient care if push comes to shove.
Last week, as part of some advanced training, I held a little class in venipuncture, or doing blood draws. Jordan, Brien, Robert, Sven and Nick participated as both the drawers and donors.
After going over some basic supplies and technique, I just turned them loose on each others veins. Robert is quite good and has been doing this for the previous three winters so he helped me with the instruction and demonstrated his technique on Sven.
Viola! Of course with those Viking veins (or Wiking weins), it's hard to miss.
Neal was our celebrity vein volunteer and stopped by to let the guys practice on him. It took a couple of sticks but Nick nailed it and sucked up several tubes of his blood. Neal was a great sport and I think the worst part for him was not eating for 10 hours since I was going to run a fasting cholesterol panel on him with the blood.
Everyone took their turn and despite some nervous laughter, the guys all did well and successfully completed their vampire training.
I didn't get a picture of Brien doing his stick, but he had the toughest one of all. Another guy in our crew made the mistake of wandering into Medical to see what was going on so we threw him onto the gurney and told him he was donating his arm. He had deep veins and it would have been a hard stick for me or any experienced phlebotomist but Brien just confidently nailed the vein like a pro.
As a reward, they all got lollypops and proudly showed off their bandaged arms. If I'm the one to fall sick down here, I will gladly and gratefully let any of these guys draw my blood.