Thursday, September 21, 2006

Part 3 - The Final Day!

Once more we were rudely awoken at 6.30am!! and this time we had to pack all our stuff up and take it back over the main building, because we weren't coming back again. And we had a breakfast of fried eggs and porridge again. Mmmmm. Then we were once again split into two groups, and we had a talk on security, and the kinds of security measures a member of the ERU should take, and what kind of risks there would be. We watched an amazing 70's video reconstructing some of the dangers and things, and then we had to plan a risk assessment and route from the 'city' that we were in Dan, to the nearest city, Patan, to pick up a first aid kit. As we were doing this there was the most almighty bang! It scared the carp out of us!!!! It was a guy dressed in a hoodie and a beanie type hat, waving a gun around demanding money! He went straight to our team leader Scott - who is in the army - who handled the situation very well, and calmly got up and stood against the wall. Then we realised that the dude with the gun was actually Jimmy - one of the other army dude, who was team leader to another group. This kinda ruined it a little bit, in as much as he went straight for the other army trained person in the room. Even though it scared the life out of us, it too quickly became a role play. We suggested that maybe for the next group, he wear a balaclava or something to disguise himself, and maybe go for Sue (who was the main organiser lady), because that way, you'll get a totally different reaction from everyone else, because a) he was going after a woman, and b) she's not army trained to deal with it. It would seem more realistic. And also maybe to get the rest of the group involved, make the whole thing last a little longer. So I would have liked to have been in the second group for that! Anyway, having planned out our route, and listed the kind of things we would have to look out for, our team (Team 4 incidentally!!!) piled into the big LandRover thing, to 'go to Patan'. Because I didn't want to do it, they MADE me sit in the front to be the spokesperson. *shudder*, so as I was expecting, we got to a 'border' and sure enough there was Scott and Jimmy being guards!!!! We had to talk our way through them, whilst turning down their offer of an armed escort, because the Red Cross runs on the principle that is Neutral and Impartial (among other things), if they were to accept an armed escort, it would seem like they were affiliating themselves with that after many nasty questions, and being put on the spot by the EVIL EVIL jimmy, we managed to get through!!! Ooh, it was horrible! Didn't like it at all! I have a real issue with authority anyway, so it was not fun! But it was all done in good humour, and when we got back to the main base bit, we were all giggling about it. I can't imagine having to do that with ACTUAL people, stood there with guns and being totally serious! It gives me Goosebumps just thinking about it!

After that we did a kind of leadership, trust exercise. We were put into pairs, with someone that you've never worked with before, and one person was blindfolded. The guys had marked out a route through the trees by tying some rope to the trees and things. The non-blindfolded one had to lead their partner around the route, without touching them, or talking to them, and with out the blindfolded one holding on to the rope. HUH???/ I hear you say! We thought the same thing! Basically you had to clap to them, and they would follow the sound of your claps. It was really hard though, because there were things to step over, and branches and twigs in the way, so you had to work out some kind of signal within your clapping to mark that there was something to step over. We managed to do this (I was clapping first), but then about ¾ of the way round, there was about a 6" drop!!! Until then the signal we had worked out meant step OVER, so it was impossible to tell the other person to step down as supposed to over. But hey ho - it was really annoying though, when it came to swapping over, we did really well, as I think most people did on the second time round because you kinda knew the route by then. My partner and I were on for a really good time - it was a bit of a competition you see - but then she led me the wrong way round a tree, so we had to go back and round the other side of this tree!! But Alison - the lady leading me, didn't know the route, and as it was just marked out by a thin piece of rope, I don't blame her at all for going wrong, it was just sooo annoying. But hey ho - that's life I guess!!! But that was really good fun - it was really interesting because the sound of the other person clapping became such a comfort after a while - it was all you had. When the other person had to turn around to make sure they were going in the right direction, the clapping stopped for a while, and I know that I for one, started to panic a little bit! "Where did they go...what's going on...." It was scary!!!!

After that was the best bit of the whole my opinion anyway. It was the first aid section. We were led further into the training camp, walking for about 15 mins or so, and then sat on the ground outside. It was a beautiful day, so sitting outside was lovely! We had a bit of a crash course in emergency first aid, and the kind of injuries we would encounter - fractures, cuts, etc.....then we were split into two groups again, all mixed up this time, which I don't think was a good idea, and we were taken to this upside down burnt out old helicopter. From there we were given a brief - we were an ERU team coming to relieve another ERU team who had been caught in an aftershock of the earthquake. 3 of the team had made it out ok, but one of them was left injured somewhere. We had to pick up a piece of kit along the way, which had been dropped from the helicopter, and radio in for more instructions. However, there were enemy forces marching this way, and friendly forces coming from the opposite direction, and they were going to meet each other right where we were, in about 15mins. Therefore, we had 15 mins to get the kit, and find the injured person and get him out. Ooh, the adrenaline started pumping then! We delegated a communications man (who turned out to be rubbish!!!), and went off in search of this piece of kit, with 2 hefty 6 foot poles and a loooong bit of sturdy rope. We found the kit; it was a first kit, in the middle of a 'mine field'. They had marked it out with stones, twigs, cans that kind of thing. But the first aid kit was about 8 feet into this minefield, and we had to somehow get it. We couldn't put any pressure on the minefield, in case we stepped on a mine, and we couldn't use the poles to hook it, in case we dropped on and it set off the we had to use the rope kinda like a cheese wire, and get the rope on the other side of the kit, and flick it towards us - if you get me... - so we eventually managed that, but it took us about 5 mins to work out how to do that, then Tom (our communications dude) radioed in for more instructions. There was a building near us, which is where our casualty was, and also in there was a satellite phone, so we left our radio behind, because it wouldn't' have worked in the building anyway, it was more like a bunker. And then the four of us headed down there - with the guys helping to run the weekend shouting, and generally causing major distractions allll the time. Once we got inside (it was totally pitch black down there, and we just had 1 torch, although I think the guys helping to run it had a couple too) we could hear a radio bleeping, and someone screaming. Our communications guy went straight to the casualty as supposed to the radio, so we had to delegate someone else to be radio guy! Then Tom told me to hold open the casualties airway - he had a big beam across his chest, one across his thigh and then a big rock at his shin, with a really nasty open fracture...and then a cut on his arm too. I stayed with jez - the casualty - all the time, and reassured him, told him what was going on, calmed him down, while tom and another lady bandaged his leg. We then somehow had to get him out - with about 3 minutes left to go...stress - people shouting, noise, dark, heart beating in my head - aagggghhhhh.....we figured we'd build a stretcher with our two man sized poles and sturdy rope - why else would we have been given them? However, we spectacularly ran out of time, and we would have either left Jez, as he was injured anyway, or we'd all have been shot!!!! No teams managed to get him out alive! How rubbish are we!! Haha, and in hindsight we would have done so many things differently. The dude running the first aid bit said if we'd just taken the time to look around, we would have found a big board on the floor, which could have used as a stretcher - so in the end we didn't need the poles at all! They were just another distraction! That bit was soo much fun, and even though we failed miserable, everyone was soo pumped afterwards!!! The adrenaline was going I can tell you!!!!!! Phew - it gives me butterflies just thinking about it. We all wanted to do it again, now that we knew what we had to do! Haha! Apparently we were the only team to keep someone with the casualty all the time - actually caring for him etc, which again in hindsight, I'm not sure I needed to do so much, I could have been useful somewhere else, but hey...what can we do now???? It was just soooo much fun!

Then we met up with the other team of 4 who had done it before us, and compared ideas and plans, and found out that their team was just utter chaos! Then we carried on chatting away as we headed back for lunch. Again lunch was make your own sandwiches, which were delicious! As we were eating, we were given our final situation report, and also we were handed a list of 4 questions. We were told we had to come up with a presentation answering these questions. We were basically handing over the camp to the next ERU, who needed to know the key people to talk to, what to do to relax, what status the city was in that kind of thing. I hate presentations, but it was ok I's all on camera too! Eeek. It's kinda cool though, because all the press interviews we did and all the presentations are all going to be put onto a DVD along with photos that the staff were taking all weekend too. I'm going to put some up on my blog when I get them! Yey! So having done our presentations, we had a brief talk from Sue, the organiser, who thanked all the staff etc, and then it was time to go. However, we were done by about 2.45ish, and I didn't end up leaving until 4.00, I didn't want to go! Coming back to reality after such an incredible weekend was hard! I met some awesome people who I will stay in touch with, hopefully! and just had one of the most amazing experiences ever!

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