Steffi shares what she learnt from her recent Wilderness First Aid training…


A bunch of us congregated in Whittington Park for a First Aid update. The BCU requires coaches to keep their First Aid certificate up to date, but to be honest, it’s in my own interest to refresh my memory and ensure I know what I’m doing. It’s also worth noting that every year things change – CPR being a good example. And if that’s not enough, it’s usually good fun to mummify each other and look ridiculous. We had fake fractures, open wounds and even fake blood to ‘play’ with. Good job we were hiding behind the bushes and not screaming for help too loudly. These courses have a habit of raising the attention of the public. And you may not be surprised to find that most people just stare with confused and suspicious looks.

Why Wilderness First Aid?

Well, some of the rivers we paddle can be remote, meaning; emergency services cannot easily access the area within an hour from definite medical care. Given the sport we all enjoy, we usually focus on aquatic specific rescues. There are statistics for everything, so, we do know what injuries us kayakers are more likely to experience and this is why we try and prepare ourselves. So, having that knowledge, we can put together a relevant first aid kit.

That said, it’s easy enough to put a small first aid kit together, even if you have not completed a course. Get a dry bag and stick some plasters (I like Lidl’s waterproof plasters which are almost as good as the hospital ones – I speak from experience), antiseptic wipes, a couple of bandages, a triangular bandage, Steripstrips, a bit of tape (gaffa tape!!!), some antihistamines, painkillers, a notebook and pencil (you can get waterproof ones). In addition to this, carry some sunscreen for those rare sunny days, some sweeties, water or a thermos and a spare thermal (for those very common grim days). And whilst it’s not a first aid related thing, keep those whiskey corks and stick it in your kit as they make great replacement bungs!!!



Wondering when is the best time to do it? My suggestion, once you completed the beginner’s course, it useful to go on a First Aid course. There are several people who have organised these courses before and can lend a helping hand to put you in the right direction. And with facebook you are most likely to find a number of people who think the same as you and would like to get onto one. And whilst we’re at it, you may also like to consider a Foundation Safety & Rescue course (Christine is running one at the club fairly soon and I believe there is going to be a minimal cost to cover some expenses) and a White Water Safety & Rescue course. And don’t forget – you are entitled to a 40% club subsidy in return for writing an article – as we know these things don’t come cheap.


Images by Steffi