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Dr Who-oo (hey!) - John C. Kirk

Mar. 31st, 2007

08:45 pm - Dr Who-oo (hey!)

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I've just watched the first episode of the new series of Dr Who (either the 29th or the 3rd, depending on who you ask), and I enjoyed it; I thought it was a fun episode, with interesting characters, and bodes well for future episodes. There was only one huge flaw in it, which I'm willing to overlook.

Obviously the main purpose of this episode was to introduce the Doctor's new travelling companion (Martha Jones), and I think it did a good job with that. She came across as intelligent without being infallible (or having encyclopaedic knowledge) and aware of current events, so that's a nice contrast with whatshername from the Christmas special ("good luck, Lance!"). I think it can be tricky to get the right balance, because if you have other characters standing around saying "Gosh, that's an amazingly insightful comment" then it may seem self-congratulatory on the part of the writer, but this episode managed to avoid that trap. It's also good to see that Martha has a sense of adventure, by enjoying the experience of being on the Moon and being willing to go outside the building.

There's an issue of Lucifer where someone asks Jill Presto whether she's a doctor, and she says "Not in these heels, honey" (paraphrasing from memory). It may seem slightly odd for Martha to be wearing high heels, but some of the female doctors I work with do the same thing, and at least they're not stillettos.

Since they discussed the question of air, it's slightly odd that they didn't bring up gravity; I'll be charitable and assume that it was taken care of by the force field dome (or bubble). As for electricity, I'm guessing that the hospital has its own generator (based on where I work). Water would be a bit more tricky, since the pipes were all cut.

Since people on Earth-DW seem to have taken alien races pretty much in stride, I think that the best approach on the Moon would have been to close all the curtains. Out of sight, out of mind... After that, the doctors would be able to just stick everyone back in bed and resume the normal routine to settle things down. (Admittedly, this was my plan before the rhino aliens turned up, which disrupted the routine a bit.)

One of the weak points in Star Trek has always been the universal translator, because simultaneous translation simply doesn't work across different languages. (Or at least, there will be some cases where it's feasible and many where it's not.) For instance, "le chat noir" in French corresponds to "the black cat" in English, but if you translated it word by word you'd get "the cat black". (There's a similar problem with their communicators, which would only work if they broadcast to the entire ship, but I digress.) By contrast, I think that this episode handled it nicely, by just waiting until the machine had heard enough of the doctor's speech to identify his language.

I'll be interested to see whether Martha keeps referring to the Doctor as "Doctor", given that she's one too. For that matter, even "Mr Smith" is quite formal (if he's using her first name), so maybe she'll start calling him "John"? As a related issue, it's slightly odd that he referred to himself as a Time Lord when giving his species, since I'd think of that as more of a job description; has anyone referred to Gallifrey by name since the relaunch with the 9th Doctor?

The only real flaw I saw was when Martha tried to do CPR. More specifically, what the hell kind of ratio was that?! She was doing 5 chest compressions to every 1 breath, and I've never come across that for a single first aider treating an adult casualty. (Bear in mind that this was before she remembered the "two hearts" thing, so she wasn't allowing for that.) For the record, the current (2005) guidelines from the Resuscitation Council say that for an adult [human] casualty you should alternate 30 chest compressions with 2 rescue breaths. Previously, that ratio was 15:2. When I did lifeguard training at school (1992), we were taught to do a ratio of 5:1 if you had two first aiders working in tandem, but that method hasn't been taught in several years. (The rules are slightly different for babies and children, but I'd recommend that everyone should take a one day first aid course to get the hang of the basics.) So, I'll assume that she was skiving off when they taught that at medical school... Still, one glaring mistake per episode isn't bad (as compared to Torchwood for instance), so I'll let it slide; I just think that it's an important point to note in case anyone is in a corresponding situation in real life.

Thinking about the Doctor's travelling companions, most of them have seemed to have signed up by accident (e.g. Tegan trying to make a phone call at an airport and being stuck in the TARDIS for a few years). As the Doctor has learned to control it a bit better, he's been able to offer people an informed choice, but there is still a problem of dropping everything to head off over the horizon. One issue would be family and friends, so this episode helped by showing that she could probably do with a break from her relatives. (I'm not quite sure whether that effect was intentional, but it works for me.) The job commitments issue is a bit more tricky, so if I was offered the chance to go then I'd have to say "no". Even if I could come back exactly when I left, there would still be logistical problems, since my memory would be a bit rusty about various documents/projects that I'm currently working on. Having said that, I'd certainly be happy to make a one-off jaunt across the universe.

Poll #957748 Travelling in the TARDIS

If you were offered the chance to drop everything and go off in the TARDIS, right this minute, would you go?

Abso-fraggin-lutely!
7(87.5%)
No way, hose!
1(12.5%)

Comments:

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From:susannahf
Date:April 1st, 2007 08:42 am (UTC)

CPR

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Yes, I was shouting at that too. 5:1 did used to be the ratio for children up to the most recent guideline change, (and I think it still might be for medically trained personnel), but it sure as hell hasn't been an adult ratio for at least 5 years.
I can think of two possible explanations. Firstly, she's a medical student, and a lot of them don't learn CPR until near the end of their pre-clinical. But she's clinical, so that doesn't hold up. Second, 15:2 or 30:2 take a long time to do a cycle, which looks boring from a dramatic point of view.

Guess which one I'm going for...
In another issue, she should know that CPR probably doesn't /actually/ work by compressing the heart(s), it works by altering the pressure in the chest cavity. So she probably didn't need to do two sets of compressions. Oh, and I didn't see much of a breathing check going on there either. Or indeed a shout for help.
Conclusion: She would have failed any of my courses.
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From:johnckirk
Date:April 2nd, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)

Re: CPR

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Thanks for the second opinion - it's nice to know that I'm not the only person who keeps count when I see CPR in TV episodes or films :) I was a bit worried that you'd say something like "Actually, she's following the draft version of the 2008 protocols", which would have made me look a bit silly, so I'm glad you didn't.

My third possible explanation is that the writer just didn't know any better, e.g. if he's half remembering a Baywatch episode that he saw ages ago. Do you happen to know how standard the ratios are across different countries? E.g. I'm guessing that the USA don't necessarily follow the advice of the UK resus council.

The bit about pressure in the chest cavity is interesting - I hadn't heard that before. As for breathing checks, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, since the rhino had used his handheld scanner to say that the Doctor was dead, although I'd personally repeat the test myself. Mind you, there was something similar that bothered me about the most recent episode of "Lost", so you might want to read my other post about that (I'm guessing that spoilers won't affect you if you're not watching that series at all).
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From:stagknight
Date:April 1st, 2007 09:24 am (UTC)
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Clearly it was a CPR montage, rather than just CPR.
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From:johnckirk
Date:April 1st, 2007 10:49 am (UTC)
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That sort of works, I suppose :) I think it would have been better in that case to alternate between her and whatever else was going on at the time (the rhino guys fleeing?), so that when they flicked back to her she'd be saying "..., 28, 29, 30, [breathe, breathe], 1, 2, ...". That would solve the problem of boredom while still being accurate.
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From:elvum
Date:April 1st, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
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Didn't the Doctor say he came from Gallifrey to the spider-monster in the Christmas 2006 Special?
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From:johnckirk
Date:April 2nd, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
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Possibly - I'll keep an eye out for any repeats of that episode.
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From:billyabbott
Date:April 2nd, 2007 08:12 am (UTC)
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He did - I caught the end of that while waiting for last night's repeat of the new series to start.
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From:billyabbott
Date:April 2nd, 2007 08:13 am (UTC)
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Just be thankful that she didn't just punch him in the chest a bit before leaning back on her heals and shouting "WHY WON'T YOU LIVE!!!".
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From:johnckirk
Date:April 2nd, 2007 12:04 pm (UTC)
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Hmm, this suddenly gives me an evil idea for next year, when April 1st will be on a Tuesday (SJA class night day) :)
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From:pozorvlak
Date:April 5th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
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Hehehe.

I remember watching the first episode of 24 with my parents, both of whom are ex-military, and both of whom had gone through the same military first-aid training. There's a bit where Jack Bauer takes his tie off to use as a tourniquet, at which point my parents both shouted "Now write a T and the time on his forehead!" at the screen :-)
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From:terpsichore1980
Date:April 2nd, 2007 12:03 pm (UTC)
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Alternatively, perhaps she was in a state of (at least mild) panic, what with being transported to the moon, almost killed by rhino aliens, the low oxygen levels and the proximity of an MRI machine that she knew might be about to blow up the entire hospital. Perhaps in the heat of an extremely stressful situation (even for a junior doctor), all that came to mind was the ratio for infants, which has to be better than nothing ;-)

I think I am ok with the idea that a doctor might make a mistake in such circumstances...
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From:johnckirk
Date:April 2nd, 2007 12:12 pm (UTC)
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As an explanation for the character's actions, that sounds reasonable, and no harm came of it. I'm a bit more dubious about that as a real-life theory, although as you say any CPR is better than none. Basically, I'd think that it's going to be a stressful situation if someone does keel over in front of you (particularly a close friend/relative), and so the point of the first aid training I do is to keep practicing CPR until everyone's sick of it, just so that you don't have to think about it in a crisis. I've never had to do it in a real situation, but I've spoken to people who have, and they've all basically said that the training takes over, and you leave the panic until afterwards.

The main reason I've been picking holes in it here (ditto for "Lost") is that there are lots of people who never go on a proper first aid course, and all they know about CPR is what they see on TV, so I'm trying to balance out the disinformation (although I obviously have a smaller audience than those TV programs).
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From:pozorvlak
Date:April 5th, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
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I didn't see the programme in question, but I've seen some really awful CPR on TV and in films. My impression was that it was generally getting better, as awareness of how to do it properly became more widespread in the population, but you'd know a lot better than me...
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