In the last weeks of October, I, Daniel Hayes came all the way up from West Yorkshire for a fortnight of work with the team on my first work experience placement.
Why did I Choose Outdoor Learning?
Although I am a bit of a Mathematician-Science enthusiast, I also enjoy explaining things to others. I find it very rewarding to be aiding someone and building up their knowledge, but most of all, to bring smiles to peoples faces. I also love the outdoors and exploring the ‘wilderness’ of the countryside, because you get a great sense of freedom that you don’t get anywhere else. So that’s why chose Outdoor Learning, because I knew that I would get the best of both worlds, being able to continue with the academic thinking processes that a scientist would have, along side teaching others; taking young people out and showing them the ‘real world’.
I spent the first day of my work experience taking part in a ‘Emergency First Aid’ course, along with 12 other teachers from ‘Sanderson’s Wynd’, a school in East Lothian. We learnt a variety of essential first aid techniques, from bruises to burns to ‘not breathing’.
We first of all learnt an acronym which helped us to remember the calm and systematic approach when discovering a casualty, which was DR’s AB
Danger – Are you in danger?
Is anyone surrounding you in danger?
How can you remove the danger if there is any?
Response-What response can you get from them?
Ask if they are alright – how do they reply?
Alert, voice, pain, unresponsive
Shout- Call for help
Airway-is there airway open? Tilt their head back to unblock the tongue from the throat.
Breathing-Check with ear to feel for breathing, if so put into the recovery position. (Don’t check for more than ten seconds)
We then learnt how to undertake Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) which consisted of how to go about administrating shocks from an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) when a casualty is not breathing. We learnt that for the best chances of recovery 30 chest presses to 2 rescue breaths and were shown the different types of face-masks we could use (We even got a free one for our keys!)
We also learnt how to put a casualty in the recovery position, or as Martyn likes to call it, the ‘Safe Airway Position’; it doesn’t actually offer any recovery, it just helps them to breath easier and minimize chocking.
On the subject of choking, we also learnt how to deal with someone choking and how to deliver abdominal thrusts effectively. We all practiced with a dummy, trying to eject a piece of polystyrene from its mouth.
After this we learnt the less essential minor injuries to deal with, like burns and bruises. Several of us stuck fake cuts and bruises on ourselves which the others had to bandage up!
We learnt how to tie a bandage, and how to deal with a burn dependent on the size of it. We also had a look at some very gruesome pictures of accidents from stabbing your own foot to falling into a barbed wire fence.
After lunch, we all learnt about the emergency services signed ourselves up to the SMS emergency service, and then learnt about the different types of life threatening conditions that may need to be dealt with urgently such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy.
Finally we wrapped up and called it a day, and I came out with a certificate for emergency first aid!
On day 2, we spent the morning with some students from Ross High school at the Tranent Climbing Wall. We spent the time we had using equations of motion to calculate the height of the wall only using toy balls and seeing how long it took for them to hit the ground.
The formula we used was:
s=ut+1/2at^2 where s is distance, u is initial speed a is acceleration of ball and t is time
Because the ball fell to the floor so quickly, it was very hard to time the fall exactly. We then used Martyn’s iPad to film the drop and then get the time exactly. Once we had done this and put the figures into the formula, we came out with a very accurate result, less than 40cm from the true value!
In the afternoon, Martyn and Keith were busy in replying to phone calls and e-mails, so I spent the afternoon remarking the sizes of different wet-suits, boots and gloves and organising them all. Yippee!
I didn’t spend the day with anyone from the learning centre today, I spent it with Anthony, a member of provisional staff that the company sometimes calls in. We spent the day running (and driving lots!!!) around the pentland hills, trying to find groups of bewildered and confused 14 year olds from Preston Lodge that were doing their best to navigate their way over the hills to their campsite. (They were doing it for their qualifying DofE expedition). It was great fun, even if it did involve a lot of waiting around, and I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it!
After a long hard day’s work, we finally regrouped with everyone back at the campsite. I then headed off home completely shattered.
I spent day four with Martyn and Keith. We took two groups of P7 pupils out from Windygoul Primary School, Tranent in a Minibus out to the wonderful North Berwick coast line to help them gain knowledge of the wildlife in the inter-tidal zone and to have some understanding of what it’s like to be a barnacle!! We also learnt about the different types of seaweed and predators of the rocks. Although it sounds all fun and games, it was probably the most freezing water I’ve ever been in (and I hope it will be!!)
After we got back we cleaned up all the wet-suits, boots, life-jackets and helmets and hung them up to dry. I then attended a Duke of Edinburgh meeting in the evening discussing different issues involving the Award.
On day 5 Martyn and I went with Dumbar Grammar School to the Peebles. Pupils from S4 and S6 were doing there practice silver and gold expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and we went along to supervise them on their walks for three days.
The first day we went with a gold group navigating through a plantation, which proved to be very tricky due to the fact that everywhere was all so similar. I went out with a small day bag but I ended up having to carry one of the students’ bags because they were feeling very light headed and ended up having to go home and the end of the day.
That evening, the staff all treated themselves to a restaurant meal which didn’t prove to be too glamorous; the Menu was ‘Burger’ or ‘Chicken Burger’ or ‘there are a couple of veggie burgers in the fridge’. After we got back to the campsite, we all sat around in an Event tent and Mr King, a Technology teacher from Dumbar Grammar School, brought along a home made stove so we could light a fire to keep us all warm. I slept cosily that night in the roof of Martyn’s campervan.
I spent day 6 with the same gold group from the day before but we spent it fairly high up, walking along a ridge that passed over the hills. I had a great day with the group, although they remarkably managed to convince me that haggis was a type of animal! That evening we decided not to go back to the restaurant so we made our own dinner of chorizo pasta in the campervan.
I spent day 7 with Dave, a retired outdoor teacher and geophysicist who used to work for the outdoor learning service. We supervised two groups remotely as if it was there qualifying expedition and met them at certain points. There was a lot of hanging around waiting for groups, so Dave was telling me about his amazing two year stay in Antarctica performing loads of geological experiments. (Below is a picture of the group that I spent the majority of my weekend with.)
I spent day 8 out with two groups of P5 students from Pencaitland Primary School at Soutra Gorge, just on the border of East Lothian. The pupils were doing the John Muir Award and were studying the River, here looking at the upper course of the river: ‘at the early stages of the river’s life’. We had to kit them all out with helments waterproofs and harnesses and took them down a couple of waterfalls. The students really enjoyed themselves and learnt lots about the river.
Day 9 was a quiet day with no outings to attend to, so I spent the day effectively ‘being Keith’ and sorting out all of the equipment from the previous DofE weekend. I had to sort out all of the muddy tents they had used, tranjias, boots, the lot! I also had to do alot of shredding and went off to the wallyford tip which happened to be more of a zoo with all the statues!
In the morning there was a monthly meeting that I attended. For the first time all the staff were there together and they discussed different things about safety of various activities and talking about qualification funding for external teachers. Later on, various retired staff from the outdoor learning service came to see each other, and for some, to look around the new centre (the Musselburgh complex wasn’t complete until 2010). That afternoon I did more office work (laminating, shredding etc.)
This was my last day at East Lothian outdoor learning service. I made my own commute to work on the bus from Haddington, because Martyn was going to a meeting in Glasgow. However when I arrived he happened to he there (his train was cancelled). All the staff were in again and they were getting ready for a meeting with some primary school teachers to talk to them about outdoor education. I made a contact slip for the teachers to take away with photos of the staff as well!
In the afternoon the teachers arrived. Me and Andy put up a big flag and tried (and failed) to put up a teepee up in the strong winds. The staff demonstrated to the teachers how they could do basic orienteering lessons out in the playing fields using coloured cones, and later on made them have a go with dibbers to display their splits between flags. They also had a go boiling water in the Kelly kettles and making hot chocolate and spent some time talking to the staff about what they had to offer.
At the end of the day I thanked the staff for a great 2 weeks and I hope to see them all again soon.
What have I learnt from it all?
I think that the most valuable thing I can take from the two weeks is that I now know that I definitely want a job that involves meeting lots of people on a daily basis. I realised that one of my strengths is being able to talk to people easily and I really enjoyed encountering new faces throughout my experience.
Thanks again to Liz, Martyn, Andy and Keith for a great fortnight and allowing me to come along to experience the world of work.