In order for my characters to suffer greatly (but not die altogether) I took a First Aid course. Bandages. Chest Compressions. Snake bites. That kind of thing. It was a great exercise to figure out how far I can push my
unlucky characters before they teeter off the edge of living.
I actually took a First Aid course so I can look after small children and know what to do if they choke on a Duplo block.
But I am a writer and the fact of it is: don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
So, here are some interesting things I learnt while sitting for a whole day (yikes, that was hard) in a classroom (haven’t done that in 12 years), listening to a teacher talk for hours on end (what’s with that anyway?) about things that were already IN THE PRE-COURSE BOOK (why did we even have to go?).
– When you give blood, you usually give 600ml. So, if some poor mite is lying in a pool of blood, there’s a good chance it could just be 600ml. Good recovery news for characters with minor stab or slice wounds!
– If you do CPR on an unlucky victim, there’s a 90% chance they’ll die. If you don’t, there’s a 100% chance they’ll die. Comforting, right?
– Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is useless. The moment you stop thumping on the victim’s (I say “victim” but it’s supposed to be “casualty”…still) chest, their blood pressure drops instantly and by the time you’ve finished
kissing mouth-to-mouthing them, there blood pressure is through the floor. Then they die.
– Half drowned victims are more likely to recover with CPR. (Very hand to know.)
– If putting ice on it can’t fix it, that’s when you have a problem. (Not many bags of frozen peas in fantasy settings, unfortunately.)
– Bleeding isn’t a terrible thing! (Unless it doesn’t stop.) Bleeding is actually your body’s way of washing a wound.
– Spiders are creepy. If they bite you — they’re doubly creepy.
– If you’re shot, stabbed or impaled with something, leave it in. Yes, the brave hero who rips the arrow out of his shoulder? Tut-tut. Bad idea, mate. Now it’ll bleed. At least when the arrow is in your shoulder the wound is sealed off. And the brave hero who takes the sword out of his side-kick’s gut? Please, someone take him through a First Aid course!
– If you think someone’s had stroke, do NOT poke them with a stick. (Honestly, this was an option to the question “How do you tell if someone has had a stroke?”)
– The only thing you use water for in First-Aid is washing YOUR hands. Don’t wash wounds. Water is actually the most complicated thing to use in First-Aid.
– In case of any life threatening emergency, dial 000. Unfortunately, this was the most disappointing realisation of the entire course. There are a definite lack of ambulances in my fantasy world.
Did any of my life changing (pardon the pun) realisations surprise you? Go on, your turn! Add to my list!
And the summary of my story? Anything I experience or learn or realize CAN and WILL be used in my writing.
Excuse me, I’m off to go through the basics of First Aid with my heroines and heros so they can possibly stop freaking out at near-death scenarios and instead do something constructive.