In a way it seems kind of odd that the last few weeks of the semester, after most of the outdoor work is done, would be the ones that I'm learning the most new hands-on stuff. But that's kind of what this week has been.
Back in September there was the set of three Fridays with lectures on Workplace Safety. Now that we've all survived for a couple months longer, (having taken those lessons to heart), we get the practical part. Last Friday I spent the day doing training for emergency first-aid and CPR-B. At that level you don't get a huge amount of skill / knowledge, and it does assume you are in an urban area, with access to phones and an ambulance within 10 minutes distance. But knowing CPR basics, basic checks and steps for things like stroke and heart attack, bleeding, choking, heat stroke, frostbite...well, it's all good to have. And the booklet we get covers more, so I figure we can read up a bit on our own. There is apparently a wilderness first aid course also, which might be a good idea to take at some point. That one sounds like it might be better for us country types, since it apparently covers more of what to do if you don't have a phone or ambulance nearby, and the injured person will be on your hands for a longer time.
So I have a nice little card that labels me as having first-aid/CPR training, and today I added one that says I'm trained for Elevated Work Platform with Fall Arrest. Which basically means an amiable and garrulous trainer came in and taught us the safety procedures for working at a height, showed us how to inspect and wear safety harness, and then made sure we each got a chance on one or both of the pieces of equipment brought in - a scissor lift (the little rectangular ones you see in malls and things, basically a platform on wheels that can go up 20 feet or so) and a boom lift (arm with a basket, adjustable length and angle up to 40 feet, sort of a cherry-picker type). Yup. I've gotten to drive both of them and play with the raising and lowering. Much better than I though it would be, given I'm not fond of heights. The trainer, I think, must have been quite brave or quite confident, since he parked his truck right behind the boom lift. No damage done, so it appears he was justified.
Exciting new skill number three of the week was winterizing equipment. I've never had much to do with motors - that's been dad's job, he's the mechanic, and I don't use motorized equipment at home anyway. So all completely new tasks, and I am very proud of the fact that I did most of an aerator by myself - changed sparkplug, changed oil, changed air filter, topped up gas, added stabilizer, cleaned and greased joints, and gave the whole thing a bit of a wipe-down before packing it away in the tool shed for the winter. Pretty cool. I think tomorrow we learn to sharpen tools. I hope so - I have pruners that could use a tune-up.