Keeping Up . . . In Just Minutes a Day

Find it hard to maintain all the skills you’ve learned since joining SAR? Days too busy to fit in any more studying (and maybe head too full to take anything else in)? Can’t seem to get organized enough to be search-ready? It may seem like there is too much to keep up with and no time to do it.

But there is something you can do, and it’s relatively painless. It’s just a matter of using those empty moments (and yes, we all have them) in a constructive way.

The following is a list of things you can do in the nooks and crannies of your days that will, believe it or not, help when it comes to a search. These are just suggestions to get the thoughts rolling; there are lots more things you can come up with once you get the idea.

While standing in line (at BART, the supermarket, the post office, etc.)…

  • Look around you and imagine a scenario in which a medical emergency happens to someone nearby. Walk through (only in your head, of course) what you might do. Talk yourself through the whole process. Imagine the head-to-toe exam and think of the SAMPLE questions. Look around to see what you might use if you had to improvise (for a splint, for instance, or bandage). If you have any concerns about an appropriate action, take note of it and remember to ask someone “in the know” later.
  • Practice your acronyms. If you have one of the handy cards with all the acronyms on it, pull it out and review.
  • Observe the people around you. Think how you might describe them. Think how others might describe them that could be confusing. Try glancing at someone quickly, and then looking away and trying to remember what they were wearing.

While watching TV…

  • Pull out your ropes and practice a few knots—over and over again. Learn a new one.
  • Clean out your backpack. Double-check supplies and make a list of what you need to replenish. Set aside items that need rehabbing.
  • Practice folding up the sleeves of your uniform shirt. (No, it’s not easy.)
  • Do some simple isometric exercises to strengthen your quads: If sitting on a chair or couch, press the heel of each foot, one at a time, down into the floor (you’ll feel your quads tighten), and hold for 5 seconds. Do 10 repetitions with each leg. You can do this at work, on BART, or anyplace else you're sitting down. Strong quads are essential for hiking.

When you’re on the computer without work to do, before visiting Facebook you might…

  • Go on the CoCoSAR photo website (SmugMug) and review the photos in the team-member gallery. Get to know each member's face and make a note of their name.
  • Read some of the material from the documents menu on the SAR website. Manyof the things you’ve learned so far can be reviewed there, especially for EMR and USAR.
  • Go back through The Callout newsletter archives and refresh your memory on different topics. You may find articles that didn’t apply at the time, but do now.

When you have 10 or 15 minutes around the house with a willing friend or family member…

  • Take their vital signs
  • Practice splinting
  • Practice wrapping a bandage
  • Do a head-to-toe exam
  • Do a practice interview, as though you are the first at a search site and they are the subject’s loved ones

And, of course, if you have an hour or two, take a hike!