A Guide to First Aid in the Wilderness -

A love for the open skies and lush meadows has often led people to adopt a wild and active lifestyle. Adventure sports, boy scouts, camping and several other such activities have often helped in satiating this thirst and pumping up the adrenaline sufficiently. However, life in the wilderness, though exciting can be dangerous as well. It is important to be aware of the various risks it involves and be prepared with first aid techniques to survive those risks.

Wilderness can be defined as any environment which is far removed from urban amenities. It need not necessarily be a forest area and can also include a hiking trail or a mining pit. In other words, it is known to be a region which is beyond the accessible service route for an ambulance or Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Wilderness First Aid therefore involves more advanced training methodologies as compared to the regular first aid trainings that are made available. This is essentially owing to the remoteness from every available emergency service. The injured, in a wilderness accident, may require continued assistance before they reach a full-fledged clinic or hospital. This assistance may depend on the distance of their location of the first emergency service available. The person involved in providing the first aid therefore is required to be adept in handling even crisis situations like bone dislocation or excessive blood loss. Consequently, therefore, Wilderness First Aid is more than just mere first aid and involves a lot more serious effort.

Course modules for Wilderness first aid training therefore include advanced instructions on the various aspects of the human body. Some of these include:

  • CPR
  • Circulatory System
  • Nervous System
  • Respiratory System
  • Fractures
  • Stable Injuries
  • Wounds and Burns
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Hypothermia
  • Heart problems
  • Lightning
  • Altitude illnesses

In addition to being the knowledge bearers of the list mentioned above, caregivers in the wilderness, also need to be aware of the limitations that he or she may be faced with in providing the service. Some of these include the limited supply of medical equipments, adverse climate, and poor connectivity and so on. It is expected, therefore, that they be prepared to improvise in order to provide the desired level of service.

Every wilderness tour plan therefore should include an in-depth analysis of every possible injury that may occur in the course of the tour.  The caregivers should also be able to estimate the time lag before they are able to access EMS and factor in contingencies accordingly. Some of the other agenda on his or her list should also include the following:

  • Understanding the environment they would be traveling in
  • Comprehending The level of First Aid knowledge available to the other tour participants
  • Drawing up a list of first aid materials and medical supplies that would be required based on the number of participants.

It is also very important that prior to plodding on into the wilderness tour, you should decide upon the leader of the first aid services in your team. Panic in crisis situations often leads to chaos and confusion thus further hampering the safety of the injured. It is essential therefore that the Caregivers are collected and composed and are able to stabilize the situation in order to help the injured relax and be comfortable. It is important to help the injured overcome the trauma and to get him or her to respond to the treatment.

Wilderness First aid is not only about applying plasters and ointments. It is about helping the injured feel safe, secured and relaxed. It is about bringing in a semblance of sanity in a situation which has every essential ingredient to turn into mayhem. The Wilderness First Aid caregivers, therefore, have a tough job on their hands; as tough as the life they have chosen for themselves.


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    May 14, 2014 09:39 Reply

    Awesome blog on first aid courses. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

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