Band-Aid Management

by Jan Yuill

My nine-year old daughter and I just got back from the city beach. She had scraped an old cut on her foot, underneath her middle toe, while we were there. It had started to bleed a bit and she asked me for a Band-Aid, … which I did not have.

The cut did not look very serious to me, but I agreed it should probably be covered while she played at the beach. I suggested we ask the lifeguards for one. They invited her to sit down on the bench underneath the lifeguard station umbrella in order to examine her toe more closely. One of them washed the sand from her foot with water from a squirt bottle. The other donned lime-green plastic surgical gloves, dried her foot with a gauze bandage, and then applied a Band-Aid. He gave us three extra Band-Aids, in case it came off in the water and needed to be replaced. I know my daughter was feeling a bit embarrassed with all the attention but, being the agreeable sort, she went along with the procedures.

In the meantime, I was asked to complete The Form – including name, date and time of ‘accident,’ birth date, gender, address, phone, appearance of the wound, and cause of the ‘accident.’

As we left the lifeguard station, I was told to check the wound when we got home, wash it again, and put on Polysporin and another clean Band-Aid. My daughter, shaking her head, said, “I just wanted a Band-Aid.”

Using Organizations Alive! terminology, this was an event at the Second Interface (Resource Management and Customer Service).

In the Resource Management quadrant we have:

  1. Inputs (equipment and supplies) – two staff in bathing suit uniforms, umbrella, bench and cupboard, gloves, water and squirt bottle, gauze, Band-Aids, clipboard with The Form, and pen – ‘all at the ready.’
  2. Throughputs (procedures) – sit down, wash the cut, put on rubber gloves, dry off the foot with gauze, apply Band-Aid, ask parent to fill in The Form, and tell the parent to check the wound at home before redressing it.
  3. Outputs – A Band-Aid on a scrape. A first aid lesson.

In the Customer Service quadrant we have a nine-year old and a parent who want a Band-Aid for a scape, … both a bit miffed by the requirements for obtaining it.

My sense was that the lifeguards were feeling pretty good about the experience (Membership Potential). It was not a serious problem or an emergency, and they were able to do all that they were able to do, calmly and competently. They had the supplies they needed and knew their first aid techniques.

I told my daughter that there probably lots of safety and accountability reasons for them taking such great care. Completing The Form probably added to the statistics for the day (week, month, season) to determine the level of supplies needed, number of lifeguards required, appropriateness of service, etc. etc. (Well, I may not have said it exactly that way, but something along that line.)

What do you think? Was this over-service? Were our tax dollars well spent?

While the emergency rooms in our hospitals receive such scathing criticisms, it seems a little over the top. But maybe I should just see it as two young people with summer jobs getting positive work experience.