You find yourself in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in South Africa. A team member has broken his arm, falling down a small cliff that was hidden from sight by the undergrowth. Another team member is doing a two-hour hike to get a phone signal to call mountain rescue. You are amazed by the amount of blood that can escape the human body in such a short time. Your adventure has just turned into a horror story as your best friend bleeds out in your helpless arms.
I am fortunate that this scenario has not played off for me in real life, and I pray it never will. However, I want to be prepared in case it ever happens.
First Aid Training is like a fire extinguisher: Something you get in the hope that you will never need it.
So two weeks back I attended my First Aid Level One course with Hugh du Preez of White Water Training in Parys, South Africa.
The course I did while working in heavy industry has expired long ago, and my memories of it has become quite fuzzy. Besides, lately I am spending a lot of time in a high risk wilderness environment in remote steep terrain and around white water.
January 2015 I depart on a 2,500km source to sea of the Vaal River with two other team members – Canadian Troy Glover and Australian Brett Merchant. The expedition is aptly named the Triwaters Tour.
I need to be well versed in first aid for the benefit of those I talk into joining me on my adventures!
Hugh du Preez is a veteran kayaker and white water master. Right from the start of the course I realised that this was not the kind of course I was used to in the mining environment. The class needed to be constantly alert while Hugh applies his wealth of knowledge on us:
“Knife wound? How did it happen? Are you OK?” As I start getting information from my ‘victim’ I figure out that it is a stab wound. Seconds later I get a mock knife through the heart as the ‘assailant’ has a go at me too!
Your first priority is your own safety. Do not treat the victim until you are sure you and your surrounding environment is safe!
After two days of intensive training I am now a highly competent First Aider, ready to prevent injuries from getting worse until more professional help arrives. I have the greatest respect for the world’s emergency services, considering that I am at the very bottom of the medical emergency food chain.
Have you completed a first aid course? Are you a professional in the world of trauma? Have your life been saved by someone administering first aid?
Please share your experiences below!