Knowing that we are going out into the wilderness on a regular basis we decided to be sure we are prepared in the event that something goes horribly wrong. Eleven (11) of my most regular climbing crew attended a Wilderness and remote first aid course (3 days with an overnight) hosted by Adventure & safety atlantic. We ranged from no experience (Me) to ski patrol and those doing a recertification. It was a fantastic course and over the next few weeks I’m going to share the experience with you! You can read PART 2 HERE.
Having completed this course for the middle of November we really got to experience the worst conditions to be exposed to. Very wet and rainy and 0 degrees C. The first half of our day was spent indoors doing a bit of a group assessment of where we are. Then quickly moving onto the overall biological needs, body systems, the death clock. How quickly muscle tissue dies (2 hrs) and how quickly brain damage occurs (4 min). Talking so frankly about death helped us to understand how crucial a bit of knowledge can be, for which GEAR cannot compensate.
After lunch we marched out into the wilderness where the weather had worsened, rapidly shifting between snowing, raining, and slushing – drenching us – mother nature doing her best to be sure we were all uncomfortable (thank you Arcteryx). We ran a few scenarios, choking hazards, heimlich (5 / 5 taps) for conscious and unconscious people, and did a few body rolls in cold puddles.
At this point the guys were sent into the camp sites to pick sites for the following night while the girls snuck off unbeknownst to us to concoct a clever rouse of an ATV accident with one of them in shock, one with a bad broken leg bleeding, and the third totally unconscious. Even though we knew this was coming it was a bit shocking how unprepared we all felt for this fake situation. Kudos to the ladies who never broke character and screamed bloody murder while we fumbled around trying to unsuccessfully fumble around to stabilize the scene. We knew nothing.
Once this was all wrapped up and we had a bit of a debrief to review what was done wrong / right, and how eye opening that small scenario was we went back inside to work on CPR (2 breaths / 30 pumps to the beat of stayin’ alive) and understanding its implications. As far as we learned CPR in the wilderness is unfortunately not going to provide much value, it is meant to extend the time before brain damage occurs before you can get a defibrillator to the scene. Every rope climbing destination is is more than a 30min hike in at which point if there hasn’t been a heartbeat or breath taken by the victim it’s time to make peace with what’s happened. Likely long before this. This was a sobering thought that if anyone were to arrest there really isn’t much we can do.
Here are the stats:
No CPR + Defib at 10 min 0-2% survival rate
Immediate CPR + Defib at 10 min 2-8% survival rate
Immediate CPR + Defib at 7 min 20% survival rate
Immediate CPR + Defib at 4 min 30% survival rate
Since this course I’ve consulted with a doctor on this who confirmed to me that yes this is absolutely true but for our group the probability is low. We learned about the defibrulator and practiced on Miles (because he was the least hairy of the bunch). With that, the President of Climb Nova Scotia is now considering arranging for a defibrillator to be available at all CNS hosted events. Which I think is pretty great and in itself might just be worth the time of this course.
The biggest take away for me was the 0% success with CPR alone in the event of an arrest, and the low percentages of success when it comes to CPR + Defibrulator. Valuable lessons on the first day that prepared us for the next early morning.
Did Miles survive? Stay tuned to find out!