How I improved the Curriculum in a Safety Course

How I improved the Curriculum in a Safety Course

Several years ago, through my advocacy and speaking up, I was able to change the curriculum in a required safety course at work to help those with rare diseases that might require an emergency injection during a medical crisis.

Required High Voltage Safety Training

At my previous engineering job, I had the potential to play with “high voltage.” This requires extra safety certification to teach me important lessons such as if a coworker is being electrocuted, DO NOT TOUCH HIM! However, feel free to whack him with a wooden stick to dislodge him from the exposed wires.

FAD402 (a.k.a. Blood Born Pathogens, First-Aid Training, and CPR) was a four hour long, instructor-led, required safety course that no one particularly looks forward too. The lucky employees are able to snag the 13:00 – 17:00 time slot, but those often fill up over two months in advance. The unlucky ones must sign up for the 20:00 – 00:00 class. In 2014, I fell in the middle. My class ran from 08:00 – 12:00.

I was absolutely dreading it.

PTSD Flashbacks from Medical Trauma

Vivid memories of the course from the prior year still were fresh in my mind. I was still working through the PTSD that accompanied The Nightmare and struggled greatly when we had to “practice” what to do in an emergency situation. Person X must call for help! Meanwhile, Person Y must ask “Are you ok?!” Person Z must begin CPR treatment immediately.

That simple role playing game triggered horrible flashbacks for me. Nurse X is yelling my name trying to keep me conscious. Meanwhile, Nurse Y is attempting to collect my vitals. Nurse Z is running out of the room to call for help. This is all happening while I’m crashing closer and closer towards absolute darkness.

I do not like practicing what to do in a medical emergency.

I have lived through one too many myself.

The previous year, I realized that although what she taught applied to the general population, it would kill me. She repeated several times to never ever administer medicine found on a patient. I informed her that last year that the protocol she taught as life-saving would end my life. I showed her my solu-cortef shot and sank back in despondence as she responded, “See, I wouldn’t give that to you. I’m not trained up on it. I could mess it up. No, I would refuse to give you that shot.”

The Importance of the Emergency Injection

Dear readers, hear me when I say this: You cannot mess up the delivery of that shot. Even if the dose isn’t exactly 100 mg. Even if you don’t inject it in the exact correct muscle location. It is better than the alternative. I will not be mad at you. I will be extremely grateful that you stopped the crash towards a crisis. That crash is beyond terrifying.

If you see me start to crash, inject me with 100 mg of solu-cortef immediately. I am clearly labeled and I tell you where my emergency injection is. I have printed instructions for how to administer it. Although I understand that you are scared, you must understand my life is hanging on the line. Every time I crash, irreversible damage is done to my body. Each minute delayed in delivering my medicine increases the potential for more irreversible damage.

If you try to just perform CPR on me without that emergency steroid shot, I will die.

CPR is used to address cardiac arrest. I don’t want to reach that part of the flow chart. Find the original chart by Prof Hindmarsh of the Great Ormond Street Hospital here.

High Voltage Safety Training: Round Two

I went into FAD402 that year better prepared. I saw how my conversations with the instructor last year influenced her teaching for this year. Off of my feedback, she mentioned to look for medical alert bracelets. She never once stated to not administer patient medication.

My conversations with her made a difference.

During one of the breaks, I went up and placed my solu-cortef shot right next to the epi-pens she had on display. She immediately stated, “I thought I recognized you!”

Epinephrine and Cortisol are both produced by the adrenal gland.
I produce epinephrine. I do not produce Cortisol.

She asked me if I had any more adventures like my Nightmare and I said a few. She loved my re-written medical alert bracelet with “Give Drugs or Watch Die.” This new wording would definitely encourage her to act.

I am Clearly Alive.

A few others in the class were listening to our conversation. They wanted to know more about my disease and my story.

I will take horrible and dreadful situations and focus on the positives in them. It is my goal to use my experiences to help others. I will speak openly and honestly about my struggles while remaining positive. Although my broken adrenal glands make my life more complicated, they do not stop me from living life.

I want to remind people that we can be Clearly Alive.

Emergency Injection Video

PS: Below is a video explaining our emergency injection. However I need you to remember that by the time I require this injection, I am incapable of administering it myself. Next time you see me, ask me about my emergency kit. I will gladly show you.

May we continue to raise awareness to make our lives safer.

Amber Nicole is Clearly Alive