Carmelo Alongi

Carmelo Alongi is a student who has just started his training at University with the London Ambulance Service to become an EMT and eventually a Paramedic. Hopefully this blog will allow an interesting insight for everyone into the process of training tomorrow's Paramedics, and a chronicle of my life as I progress. I blog under this name as a tribute to my Italian Grandfather, Carmelo Alongi.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Brown Bread.

The title refers to the cockney rhyming slang for "dead". Let me elaborate:

In something that has broken the past spell of boredom lately, today the medical school allowed us into the anatomy labs so we could get to grips with some real anatomy. This materialised itself into me walking into a room full of dead bodies. At least forty. At least. Now, having never, ever seen a dead body I'm sure you can imagine this was quite a shock. All of the bodies were covered in green plastic, with towels underneath, you couldn't see anything apart from the outlines. We split into two groups.

Our group's leader started off by showing us a skeleton, and the various movements we could and couldn't do. Every time his hands moved over the body everyone flinched in case he whipped the cover off and the body was revealed. Then he took the sheet off.

The gentleman had no skin. His head was covered with a towel, and his muscles stood out proud to see. Various arteries, veins and ligaments were scattered about. His (I'll refer to him as opposed to "it", he deserves some dignity) body was the same colour as meat in the supermarket (as if I'd know, I'm going on what people said to me). His hand still had skin and nails, the wrinkles were still there. The lecturer started to indicate his biceps, how big they were. He motioned people to touch it. Nobody moved. I did though. My first thought?
It was cold. Very cold. Also slightly moist. As the lecturer carried on, I gained confidence and started to find various veins in the arm.

Then he took his chest off. Well, the layer between the skin and the thorasic cavity. It was already dissected, so came away like a layer. Plain to see were his guts, lungs and heart. Boy did he have a big heart. A huge one. Others started to take his organs out, and look and feel about. I took his lungs, he wasn't a smoker but you should see what living in London still does to the lungs. Everything was just so.... text-book. I mean it. Most of it looked pretty much like it did in any A&P book. At this point I think I was begining to get over the "Oh my God this is a dead body" factor, so started to feel a bit more confident. I was the first to remove the towel from the head, and see the man's face. For me it personalised it, up until now I was trying to think of his body as merely a piece of meat, nothing more. We were all laughing and giggling to hide our fear of his humanity. I felt this was disrespectful. Seeing his face allowed me to realise that this was a human.

As we carried on with various bodies I held hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers, intestines, spleens, pancreas' and spinal cords. I put my finger through somebody's eye socket (eyeball was removed). I peeled the skin off somebody's face. I held a dead person's hand. I pulled a ham string.

I'm still looking at my hands. Part in disgust. I can't get the smell of the sterilizing agent out of my nostrils.


  • At 8:02 pm, Blogger Trainee Paramedic said…

    Wow, i know i may sound like a freak, but i hope we get to do something like that. I would be good to see it for real, instead of just in a book.

  • At 7:37 pm, Anonymous ecparamedic said…

    You've been lucky to get such an interesting insight into human anatomy, it certainly makes a change to Tortora, your next taste will probably be in theatres when you are doing your tubes. At least the subject matter will be a little warmer.;-)

    There are several smells that stay with you for a long time, not just in the physical sense. The mortuary/postmortem smell is one, the results of self-immolation is another, I still can't eat pork chops.


  • At 11:39 am, Blogger caramaena said…

    Interesting subject. I'm not sure how I'd react to seeing a real dead person. Closest I've seen is some doco of a french guy doing an autopsy.

  • At 6:12 pm, Blogger Merys said…

    ECParamedic: You've actually witnessed the results of self-immolation?! Ouch

  • At 9:16 pm, Anonymous ecparamedic said…

    'fraid so, one of those jobs that stays with you for the rest of your life. Strange choice of method, ultimately effective, but not immediate.

    SD :-(


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