Outdoor & Wild Country First Aid Course: 2nd/3rd March

Text contributed by Katharine and Joanne; pic by Kate.

Two IOG members were part of a group of 12 first aid training participants; the others were school teachers and members of a canoe club.

The course comprised presentations on each type of casualty you could potentially find whilst out in the countryside and away from immediate emergency services support, but these situations could equally all occur whilst in your local high street. The ethos of first aid is to preserve life and prevent worsening of the condition until professional help arrives, and we were taught how to do this with a limited first aid kit.

We learnt how to identify the most common causes of unconsciousness, what to do for serious bleeding, fractures and snake bites and how to help someone who is having an asthma attack or an anaphylactic reaction. There are lots of things that mustn’t be done and these are equally as important as those that you should do.

Defibrillators, when used within 3 minutes of a casualty’s heart stopping, have a 75% success rate. Participants all learned how to use one. A ‘choking vest’ enabled us to practice the abdominal thrust on a choking patient, which was quite an experience!

We practised techniques on mannequins and ourselves, and then we were placed in ‘real life’ scenarios in the surrounding woodland, either as casualties or first aiders, to test our learning and understanding. A simulated road traffic accident with casualties both in and out of cars was the final challenge of the weekend.

Who knew that cling film, vet wrap, a CPR face mask, and rubber gloves should be in everybody’s rucksack? If you’re wondering, cling film is the best thing to cover a serious burn (after at least 20 minutes and ideally 40 minutes of cold water on the affected area) and vet wrap is a very effective self-adhesive yet not sticky bandage designed for animals and perfect for bandaging humans; it’s a fraction of the cost of those sold for human use.

There was a danger of information overload, even for a trained nurse like Joanne, but as a minimum the course raises awareness of what to look out for when accidents happen and what to tell the emergency services. If someone is taken ill, make notes on timings – when the casualty collapsed and how long they have been out for.

The certificate of competence lasts for three years and may the skills never be needed.