For the past week, I have been on a whirlwind of an adventure here in Eleuthera. I have been given the opportunity along with another Bahamian, Alexio, to work at the Institute as a Research Assistant. It is not only he and I that arrived on the island. There were several interns that flew in as well from all over the world. Just by meeting them, I was given a small glimpse of the size and scope of the Cape Eleuthera Institute with its outreach and research.
The campus itself is much larger than I would expect. I had just come from Forfar Field Station in North Andros where I spent two weeks with student’s from University of Saint Francis and Luer’s High School for Doc’s last Bahamas Field Studies trip that he would be leading. The torch has now been handed to an alum that joined us on the trip, Dr. Leo Procise.
For the first few days, it was orientation. During this time we got to know each other, the several interns and the RAs. Our fearless leader, Alp, took us around the campus, handing the baton to other staff members depending on the area. When I say this place is large, I am not exaggerating. It has its own aquaponics area where they grow Tilapia which is hooked up in a cycle with the garden; a wet lab where they can house sharks, stingrays, lionfish, basically most marine animals for research; solar panels on several buildings; a wind turbine; a sustainability office; several small dorms; a middle school further in the community; a farm with some chickens, geese, goats, and pigs; an orchard; boathouse; and several other buildings.
Currently, the RAs and several others are taking a course called WFR (wolf-er): Wilderness First Response. *edit: definitive care* It is an American based course that teaches first response emergency scenarios and training for wilderness areas (ocean, mountains, desert, etc.) or areas further than 1+ hour from definitive care. The skills that we learn here have been tailored by the medic, Jai, for being on an island. So drowning, snorkeling, boat incidents, construction incidents, etc. The way that Jai teaches this course is a fine balance between scholastic reading, notes, and personal research, and simulated incidents. The incidents have varied from constipation to shallow water blackouts.
The instructor teaches us to the extremes of reality around here. Fire or chemical burns from the biodisel area, cuts from power tools, back injuries from falling from a high place or not lifting properly from the legs, choking while eating, car accidents due to drunk driving, etc. Everything extreme he can think of because he knows in his mind that if we fall short of extreme fixer uppers, then he can depend on us to come to the call at any instant.
During each incident I have become more aware of how important keeping myself safe and uninjured is. In general society, you are taught that when someone needs help, you go and help them. In WFR, if someone is injured, needs help, unconscious, etc. YOU are number one. Your safety comes first above all else. I cannot help anyone if I become a victim as well by rushing in without assessing the situation, environment, or resources available to help this person. Do I have gloves? Am I wearing closed toed shoes? Are my legs protected from possible blood/fluids? These simple questions for yourself before interacting with the victim can save oneself a lot of trouble.
It has been over a week and I am truly enjoying it so far. They are long days but its fun. I’m tired at the end of the day but if there is a get together with the other interns or colleagues, I manage the strength to go and hang out for a bit for relaxation.
The next several months are going to be epic.
If you would like more information on Cape Eleuthera Institute, you can check out their website.