Don’s first aid tips

Mark's first aid kit

Mark Donaldson on the importance of first aid training for kayakers

In December I took a 2-day outdoor first aid course, the type recognised by British Canoeing as suitable for kayakers who will often be outdoors and not immediately accessible to emergency services. Since kayaking this is the second time I’ve taken such a course, and this time I booked:

I highly recommend React First, they were very professional and knowledgeable. The 2-day course was well structured and paced, cover a wide range of topics and focused on the essentials with a real hands-on practical approach. I came away feeling much more confident and felt the careful repetition and building up of exercises means key steps have stuck in my mind.

I think there is little point is giving you a blow-by-blow on what happened on the course. It’s my opinion that everyone, whether kayaking or not, would really benefit from such a course. But being a kayaker it really is essential. Beyond the course I recommend we all give time to continued learning and practice. There are many good books, on-line guides, and free videos.

There is no substitute for the training, but having the right first aid kit is also important. So along with this article I have attached a spreadsheet with a breakdown of what I currently (or intend to) carry. This includes some web links to example products with prices I’ve found on-line. I hope you find this helpful, and also welcome any advice others have on this topic. Click to view the spreadsheet.

In addition to first aid, I think it’s important we all ensure we have a copy of our emergency details about our person and ensure those who are your contacts also have a copy. I’ve attached a template I use myself (click to view). I keep a small print copy in my wallet, and in my dry wallet with my mobile on the river.

Other tips:

  • Lots of free useful videos at:
  • Register your mobile for 999 text service. When reception is too weak for calling 999 a text may get through and your phone will repeatedly try sending.
  • When planning for trips, make a note of the nearest NHS services: