Wilderness First Aid...Not for the Faint of Heart!

12:14 AM, Nov 28, 2011   |    comments
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First Aid Knowledge In The Wild Can Be A Life Saver.

Imagine this scenario... a peaceful hike in the woods becomes serious when your companion has an accident and sustains an injury such as a severe sprain.

You may be far from civilization and not able to call for help.

Would you know what to do?

You would if you had knowledge of wilderness first aid. Treating injuries in the wild presents a myriad of challenges not present in normal medical situations. The knowledge should be something every outdoorsman packs along, skills one may need when least expected.

Oren Barris is owner of Paths Peaks And Paddles, and a New York State Licensed Guide: "Nobody ever goes out and goes, I'm going to fall down, I'm going to go get lost, I'm going to become hypothermic, that type of thing. People go out, and it's only going to happen to the other person, it's not going to happen to me."

Andrew Eberhardt is also a Licensed Guide: "Things can happen at any time, any time, any place. I've run into people even with my group, run across other hikers, you find somebody sitting there with a twisted ankle, or blisters, something like that, that needs help."

One of the most important tasks confronting the care giver is that of keeping the patient calm, and instilling the confidence that the aid needed can be provided. The provider must remain calm as well, not an easy task when faced with a situation made more difficult by the elements.

"The mental aspect is quite important," Christine Baer tells 2 The Outdoors, she is also a Licensed Guide. "You need to convince the individual that I can care for you and everything will be alright, and absolutely win their confidence in you and your ability, and that they will be fine."

Barris agrees: "All of a sudden, they're out in the wilderness, and they're not in the care of a paved area, so to speak...and getting the patient's confidence and being able to keep them calm is probably one of the biggest things."

The care provided in the wild usually doesn't end with a bandage or a splint. The patient may need to be helped or even carried out, or may need to be cared for an extended period of time until help can arrive.

Barris says: "You have to be able to carry someone out, or you have to be able to take all their gear with them, also plus your gear, and plus be able to get them out. You actually become their full time caregiver, and convincing that injured individual that you can care for them, and all of their needs, it may be walking them out, carrying their gear."

While wilderness first aid knowledge is complex, you don't need a medical background to learn. It's a skill anyone can acquire, and has intangible benefits that can be very gratifying.

Eberhardt says: "This is something pretty much anyone can learn. The basic medical part of it is very similar to what they teach in any kind of a first aid class they have at work or for the community. The additional part is the long term, as I refer to it, care."

Baer concludes: "One of the most satisfying things for us is when somebody leaves a classroom, and they do perform a situation, and then they come back and go through the whole scenario for you, and when they come back and say, you told me to do this in the class, and it actually worked, is very rewarding."

Paths, Peaks And Paddles is located in Tonawanda, and they offer a wide variety of outdoor classes including Wilderness First Aid. If you'd like more information, you can visit their website at www.pathspeakspaddles.com


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