Knowing that we are going out into the wilderness on a regular basis we decided make sure we are prepared in the event that something goes horribly wrong. Eleven of my most regular climbing crew attended a Wilderness and remote first aid course (3 days with an overnight) hosted by Adventure & safety atlantic. If you’re just joining the thread, read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Waking up to screaming team members postponed any morning bathroom relief. Three of our team exploded a camping fuel canister near the fire while cooking breakfast (This has happened to me in real life). We were treated for burn wounds and smoke inhalation. After that we looked at concussions, spinal, and immobilization and evacuation. Unravelling a pretzeled spinal victim, we had to pick Christel up off a rock when she was paralyzed. This was again really scary as she was crying the whole time, it made it so real to hear her crying – the instinct of wanting to help but not being totally sure how kept pulsing into the forefront of my consciousness. We eventually shifted her off the rock and onto a mat & tarp where we stabilized her and waited for help.
“I think I messed up my hand”
I ran screaming back to the team with an axe wound (literal fake axe wound not figuratively). We broke for lunch and then did soft tissue wounds and cleaning. After I was all cleaned up and bandaged it was time for the most probably mode of failure for climbers strains and sprains and splinting and immobilizing. Burns and lightning were next including ear ruptures, dental, and broken ribs. Oh and we are also certified to reloacte shoulders and reset compound fractures though I hope to never have to attempt this. Turns out relocating a shoulder takes far more time than the movies would suggest. Pull and relax the muscles until you can turn and twist it back in (Get proper instruction for this or wing just it).
Compound fracture < compound interest
We had to evacuate one of our closest climbing partners. Matt had sustained a compound fracture trapped under a tree in a hole. It was a total worst case scenario, that was so real with the blood and fake bones. Matt is a big dude and though we were trying to hold him down while we stabilized his leg and prepared to evacuate him, he kept throwing us off because of the “pain”. Eventually we got him all cleaned and patched up before realizing he was too big for us to carry out of the woods. He would have to hop, which likely he would bleed out from. The scenario ended before we had figured out what to do, which left us a bit on edge because we realized how helpless we would be if we were to require any of these issues. Especially if it is just Matt and I out alone. We finished with poisons and plants and an exam to top it all off. (Our team scored 87%, wahoo!)
The difference between the first day and the last day was immeasurable. Our ability to act quickly and confidently not only made the situation better but also gave our patients confidence that we could get them to safety. I cannot stress how great and required this course was and is for what we intend to do. It should be required for everyone to have someone with this training at a minimum in their party at all times when in the back country. If for anything than to have a good first aid kit. This was the least demanding wilderness first aid course available and it was totally worth it. When this comes up for renewal I am going to seriously consider the 40 or 80 hour course instead.
I am writing this immediately after the three day adventure and am totally wiped, so I hope everyone can leave a bit of slack for mental exhaustion. Please write us with your comments or any real world experiences you’ve had to deal with!
BIGGEST TAKE AWAY: Prevention is the best medicine and laughter doesn’t hurt.
Have you taken a course like this one? What was your biggest take away? Have you used any new skills in real world situations?