Getting Rid of Ghosts

I recently had the pleasure of receiving an email from a former student who had used the training he had learned in our classes to aid two motorcycle accident victims. He said that he felt much more confident in what he was doing and, while not perfect, he knew he was helping them to the best of his ability. He said that it also helped him lose some of the ghosts of a past incident where he had felt helpless. So, “GJ”, this is dedicated to you. You keep us motivated and keep us doing what we do. This article, on the importance of training, is simply titled, “Getting Rid of Ghosts”.


No, this isn’t a story of the paranormal where the characters are tormented by an uneasy spirit and go to all lengths in order to rid themselves of it. The only ghosts in this story are the remains of past incidents which have caused regrets. These ghosts can only be exorcised through the ritual of training.


Many of us know through our own painful personal experiences that you cannot change the past. Conversely, we also know that the only way to prevent ourselves from repeating those past mistakes is to make a positive change and become the difference between life and death. In this case, training makes the difference. Medical training, more specifically.


In the last decade, I’ve taught thousands of people and in every class, I ask them what has motivated them to take this training. There are so many reasons why they are there. Many of them are into preparedness and it’s another box to tick. Many of them are parents and want to be ready to help their children should something bad happen. The list literally goes on and on. Most of the reasons are proactive reasons where nothing bad has happened yet, they just want to be ready just in case it does. However, I think the saddest stories I hear are from the ones who are taking the class based on their own personal tragedies. Tragedies in which they couldn’t help. Scenarios in which they were powerless and could only stand idly by, praying for someone, anyone, to show up that could help. The hurt you can see in their eyes as they relay these, sometimes heartbreaking, stories is horrible. It’s palpable. You can literally feel their pain and regret. You can sense that they are haunted by their choices, actions (or lack thereof) and past reasons. Their reason for taking the class is the hardest and most painful one, being reactive.


Being reactive rather than proactive is the way that many people choose to live and it seems like it’s the majority sometimes. Their reasoning for being reactive is that nothing bad has happened to them yet so there’s no need to worry. Or, they have someone with them who knows “all about that medical stuff”. Or, my personal favorite, “I got all the training I need from when I joined the military twenty years ago”. The excuses can go on and on. And, yes, they are excuses because there is literally no valid reason why someone shouldn’t have current, accredited medical training in these trying times. Things have changed drastically over the last decade, not to mention over the last twenty to thirty years, so we need to make sure that the instructors aren’t just instructors, but teachers who have pride in their craft and who have dedicated their lives to learning how to better help suffering humanity, not someone who just regurgitates information without the slightest idea on what the rationale is behind it nor how to properly explain it.


“It’s probably good enough” or “I don’t need that” are phrases which have no place in many aspects of life, especially medical training. To be satisfied with mediocrity is to give a silent testimony that one doesn’t believe that their life is worthy of the best. This is especially true when so many offerings are out there that are “great”, “outstanding”, “current”, “relevant”, etc. To be satisfied with outdated information is akin to having the best, fastest internet speeds offered and the offer is rejected because dial-up is “probably good enough”.


Let’s say that someone witnesses a motor vehicle accident with multiple casualties. Most of these casualties have minor lacerations and are otherwise unharmed. However, there is one with an open femur fracture which has severed the common femoral artery and they are rapidly bleeding. “It’s probably good enough” and “I don’t need that” witness the accident. How good is the outcome going to be for this patient when one person still thinks that tourniquets are a last resort and the other person has never had any training whatsoever? It’s a rhetorical question.


While one attempts, in vain, to find a pressure point, because direct pressure over an open fracture isn’t tolerated by the patient and they can’t elevate the extremity, the patient continues to exsanguinate and ultimately expires from massive blood loss which could’ve been treated. The other person simply stands there. Numb. Paralyzed with fear. Uncertain. Haunted.


This incident will live in their collective subconscious forever as will the choices they made (or didn’t make) which could’ve led to a positive outcome in this situation for all concerned, most importantly, the patient. Truly they will be haunted by what happened.


How can one get better? Get the training. Obtain the proper equipment. Prepare yourself mentally and physically. That’s it. I know, it sounds so simple. That’s because it is simple. There’s no wildly complex algorithm. This ain’t rocket surgery!!! Our medical training program is proven, simple, comprehensive, easily digestible and, wait for it….fun! Yes, this training is a lot of fun. The student will leave with a sense of empowerment and quiet confidence. They will feel that they truly can, and will, make a difference. Will they do it perfectly when called upon? Maybe. Maybe not. But, and this is a HUGE “but”…they are doing SOMETHING. They are acting quickly and decisively, thereby doing their absolute best in order to affect a positive change in this patient’s outcome. THAT, my friends, is how you become “the difference”.


We may not be able to change the past but we can most definitely do something positive in which we can change our course in the future. This will most certainly help get rid of the “ghosts of bad decisions” and give us a more rewarding outcome rather than live with a multitude of “what if’s?”.


Like we always say, no one is coming for you. You are it.


Our training last sixteen hours but regret lasts forever.