Not used to writing AAR's, but wanted to try and capture what was covered to help others in the future decide if this class is for them.

Apr 10, Tactical and System Collapse Medicine (Ellifritz)

Overview and expectations prior to class:
The class itself can be taught in 1, 2 or 3 day formats, and covers tactical/trauma medicine, as well as system collapse medicine. Initially I was primarily focused on the trauma med portion since I had no experience with it, and wasn't really interested in the system collapse medicine. I don't really think of myself as a prepper, and do not mean to use that term to offend anyone, but I was honestly just interested in the trauma care portion initially. Luckily, TCinVA brought up a good point about general preparedness in light of even smaller scale disasters like Katrina, and that helped me overcome the initial reluctance I had regarding that portion of the class. I'm glad I listened, as I think that information is valuable for most people, and can be useful even where society is still functioning as normal.

The course was taught by Greg Ellifrtiz and hosted by John Murphy of FPF Training. Classes were held in the Holiday Inn in Culpepper, which served as an adequate venue for lecture + some hands-on work. Communications prior to the class from John were, in my opinion, very clear. However, I think some students missed key times and showed up a bit earlier than the actual start time. Class ran from ~9 AM to ~6 PM.

Class structure:
Greg basically structures this class broadly into three modules: trauma first aid, more wilderness self-help first aid, and system collapse first aid. Given the time restrictions, he took a poll on what the class wanted and settled on focusing the class on the trauma and system collapse modules.

Trauma first aid:
This was the main reason I took the class. We ended up covering most of the types of injuries one would expect for a class like this. The instruction included discussion on how to identify what type of injury we are treating, what type of gear Greg would recommend, how to use makeshift gear to treat said injuries, plus demonstration and hands-on practice.

While we didn't drill for a large portion of the course in applying first aid to ourselves or others, we received ample instruction and practice to continue to do so on our own. Within the lecture, Greg also showed some pictures of actual injuries, which I think at least somewhat helps us prepare mentally, plus more importantly can help us start to think about diagnosing how we would approach first aid in that situation.

Students asked a ton of questions throughout, and I felt like Greg was able to provide relatively unbiased and fact-based reasons for why he would or would not like certain techniques or pieces of gear, what to use, how to carry it, as well as some legal implications. I found the open discussion to be pretty valuable, and it added a lot to the lecture portion of the class.

We ended up finishing probably around 2 or 3PM, and spent the rest of the class discussing the system collapse portion of the course.

System collapse:
I think we could break down what we covered into two broad topics. The first portion dealt with how to clean/close wounds, including hands on experience doing basic suturing and staples. While it was fun learning how to suture, staples, sterile strips or glue seems like the way to go. The portion about how to clean the wound was enlightening, and will be useful no matter whether you're at home, backpacking, or in a natural disaster where hospitals may not be operating at normal capacity.

The other portion dealt with what basic drugs to keep on hand, how to store them, etc. One thing that was helpful was to know which drugs don't really degrade severly over time, and that their potency will still be pretty decent even after a few decades. It makes me more willing to stock drugs that I use infrequently given that it's pretty easy to set and forget, versus constantly worrying about expiration dates.

I found this block much more helpful than I would have expected going in, and am glad we covered this material in class. I get the impression most other first aid courses would not have covered this stuff, so it was a great bonus for the students.

Overall, Greg came off as very knowledgeable and a great teacher and presenter, so it made learning the material very easy even for a complete noobie like myself. I feel competent to be able to continue practicing on our own. In addition, Greg recommended lots of resources for us to follow up on for additional reading/learning. Finally, there were some aids that Greg created himself that will be useful in training and setting up our gear. One key takeaway for me was how useful the system collapse portion of the class was, even if one isn't expecting a total societal collapse. If that's what's holding you back from this class, don't let it. The knowledge is useful for natural disaster scenarios or even injuries that occur during normal life.