Wilderness first aid

Wilderness First Aid Training

Imagine you’re casually strolling through Regents Park and you come across a man stumbling around drunkenly holding a large branch, another sprawled out in a tree, a women lying on the floor seemingly unconscious with another screaming holding her head – what would you do?

This was exactly the scenario presented to us on our last day of Regents Canoe Club’s Wilderness First Aid training. Thanks to the skills learnt over the weekend, we leapt into action managing triage treating the casualties dependent on need. The least of the injuries was cured with a can of coke and some chocolate whilst the most severe had to be evacuated on a make shift Alpine cradle.

Knowing how to manage an emergency situation and provide effective first response is vital when you go to remote places as we do. The decisions we make whilst stuck in a gorge or in a remote part of the Alps can be the difference between life, death and long term injury. Indeed, outside of the club I’ve had some extremely skilled paddling friends survive very sticky situations thanks to the skills imparted during their wilderness first aid course.

The Wilderness First Aid course taken by Regents Canoe Club teaches you the following:

  • How to do an initial check & triage followed by a more thorough investigation
  • How to bandage, strap and splint wounds and how to create slings
  • How to reset a dislocated shoulder and protracting bones
  • When and how to use a tourniquet
  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • Saving a casualty from choking
  • The importance of animal identification when it comes to bites & stings
  • How to do an initial treatment for burns
  • Signs of head injury/concussion
  • Evacuation methods for those unable to walk

The course also teaches you to think beyond your first aid kit. Quite often you won’t have a full medical kit with you on the river because carrying certain equipment, like crutches, breathing apparatus of every size and a full blown stretcher, just simply isn’t practical. Instead you can improvise bandages, slings, crutches, braces & stretchers out of everyday paddle kit like under layers, dry suits, duct tape & throwlines.

Saying that a guideline for basic equipment to carry includes:

  • Gauze
  • Scissors/Knife
  • Tape
  • Bandage
  • Sugary snack
  • Drinking water

The key things to take away from a first aid course is that when treating a casualty your biggest enemies will be when the casualty stops breathing or to go into shock. Preventing these from happening are key to providing effective first aid. Remember to always check for and keep checking for a clear airway. Check for bleeding, whether internal or external and take necessary action to stop fluid loss and/or pooling.

Finally, whilst first aid is important, prevention is always better than cure. Always take the time to make the right decision before even getting on the water. Check the weather, river levels, skill level & equipment of the group. Remember, there is definitely no shame in heading to the pub or giving a miss if you’re simply not feeling it.

Belle Cartwright 

Get money back when you train and learn new skills

At Regents Canoe Club we provide training subsidies for members who undertake certain training courses that make the club stronger and safer. This includes a 20% subsidy for first aid training, for members who actively contribute to the club. Find out more at: www.regentscanoeclub.co.uk/training