First Aid knowedge is a bit like travel insurance, sometimes we think it’s not worth bothering with. However, it’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have! As Lina and I will be travelling through some rather off-the-beaten-path places next summer, we thought it best that we get as clued-up as possible.
I first heard about this fantastic course from the splendid Adventurists people. I’d been told to expect the very unexpected! I did a basic St. John’s First Aid course about 10yrs ago, Lina had not done anything. It was going to be a very steep learning curve…
Prometheus Medical Ltd. specialise in specialist high quality medical training, and is also a leading supplier of pre-hospital emergency medical equipment.
“The Surviving Adventure course has been designed to give individuals with little or no medical experience, the confidence and understanding to manage an emergency medical situation when travelling off the beaten track or in a remote environment. The course runs over two days and aims to give an understanding of how to react to and manage a medical emergency. The course is ideally suited to individuals or groups undertaking independent travel to remote locations, adventure motorcycling or an adventure race.” Perfect!
Friday night saw us driving south, cream-crackered after nights, on a pretty foul night, in an unfamiliar neck-of-the-woods. (I’d better get used to that!) We arrived at The Rectory, based in beautiful grounds, not far from Hereford.
Saturday dawned sunny sunny and clear. Everyone seemed apprehensive, perhaps a bit nervous, at breakfast, but we soon all got chatting. Many different types of people, all here for many different reasons: People doing their MLTA, Kayaking Instructors, future Surgeons and two really funny guys, who are doing the Rickshaw Rally very soon. The instructors were a good mix of friendly, professional, knowledgeable down-to-earth people; Paramedics, Forces Medics, Mountain Rescue people…
Into the classroom for introductions and running through a “Moulage”. A demonstration of what to do upon arriving at the scene of an accident. It was only a brief time in the classroom before we were out. All a bit bewildered, but told that we would feel competent by teatime! (Yeah, right I thought…)
Not knowing what to expect, we were split into 2 teams and were soon into the action! (All the moulage simulations were extremely realistic. Actors, very, very good actors, with some very realistic wounds indeed…)
A nearby explosion had us all running to the scene, where we discovered a girl whose camping stove had blown up in her face. Headless chickens doesn’t come close. We were completely thrown in at the deep end. Nobody had any real idea, (“Butter on a burn?”) but with the kit we had, we patched her up and got her ready for the Paramedics. After this, we were told what we should have done and the various injuries/traumas were looked at further. Old wives tales were dispelled! (Butter is not good, but clingfilm is useful to keep a wound sterile!)
No rest, nor let-up before the next scenario/moulage.
We all gelled together as a team very quickly, and were taught the basics of “C-A-B-C-D-E”
C = Catastrophic Haemorrhage
A = Airway and Cervical Spine
B = Breathing
C = Circulation
D = Disability
E = Exposure/Environment
In a nutshell, these are the order of priorities. (If somebody is haemorrhaging extremely badly from a wound, they will more than likely die from this, before they succumb to exposure!)
With very much hands-on experience, we all learned very quickly. Different traumas/scenarios; femurs poking through thighs, axe wounds, MTB crashes, hypothermia…
We also did a session on how to make a makeshift harness from a rope, a sheet, bits of wood and how to carry injured parties.
By teatime, we were all buzzing. Not knowing what was next, we were told about a night exercise, which would be part of our final assessment. It was a cold, clear and starry night. There was quite a bit of friendly rivalry going on between both teams by now!
Team A (us) did a theory session first, whilst Team B did their practical, with neither side giving anything away.
The theory covered many, many interesting topics; travel medicine, hygiene, dangerous animals/insects/spiders, heat/cold and many other topics to take our minds off the impending assessment.
It was pitch black and getting colder and colder, by the time we went outside, but with headtorches, a lot of nervous energy and our trusty medic bag (plus a bit of knowledge how to us it), we felt ready.
It all started with an even bigger explosion than the first moulage of the day. (Although it was Bonfire Night, so this could have been a red herring!)
We ran to the scene and found two girls; one unconscious and another in a lot of distress. It appeared that they had walked into a minefield. One had serious shrapnel traumas and potential spinal injuries, whilst the other could not see, was extremely agitated, appeared to be unable to see/hear and was covered in blood (was it her blood though?)
We worked really well as a team. (I had the responsibility of team leader, bricking myself, but trying not to show it!)
I won’t give too much away, but it was an amazing and exhilerating exercise.
A few people had mentioned beer, for later on, but to be honest most of us were too shot to drink, so after chilling for a while, we hit the sack.
Sunday dawned sunny and bright. Another jam packed day, full of learning, techniques and soaking up as much knowledge as we could. We covered topics such as CPR, MIST (mechanism-injuries-symptoms-treatment given) handovers and a multitude of other things. A final assessment involving a vehicle crash, gelled everything together, compounding all that we had learned over the 2 days.
I has always respected members of the emergency services, and medics in the armed forces, but after this weekend, even more so. To be able to keep-it-together under such extreme circumstances takes a very special person.
The teachers were absolutely brilliant. It was such a friendly and open environment, where questions were encouraged. Quite unlike any course I’ve done before. Simply brilliant.
Everybody on the course passed, we had all learned a shedload of very, very useful things about First Aid and personal safety.
There is a very good video right HERE.
People asked me before the course, “Why are you going all the way to Hereford for a First Aid Course?”
I told them afterwards, “because it’s the best one there is!”
For anybody who does anything outdoors, adventurous things, or simply wants to learn about First Aid, I cannot recommend this course highly enough. Do it!
p.s. As a footnote, we were driving home, trying to take a short-cut cross country, when we (I) managed to get the GPS jammed under a seat runner. The seat runner won. We had no road atlas, nor any real idea where we were (which can happen when blindly following a GPS). It was a long drive home, and a lesson learnt! Map & compass wins every time…