First aid in the wilderness takes ingenuity, and lots of practice

Wilderness First Aid is something that we absolutely love.  Not only does it combine two of our favourite things – Wilderness, and First Aid – it also requires in-depth knowledge, and ingenuity in how to apply that knowledge.  Wilderness first aid prepares you for situations where there is no nearby medical support, and teaches the skills to care for someone for 24 hours or more.  There is a large focus on practicing skills through real-life scenarios, requiring people to think on their feet and find solutions based on their learning.

Unlike when you are in a classroom setting, when you’re in the wilderness you don’t have the luxury of the resources you might like to have on hand.  The situations that you encounter could be complex, and you have to be able to think on your feet. 

The photo that accompanies this post was taken in the beginning of October at a training session for the Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team (OVERT). Pictured here are members of a specialty mountain bike patrol unit. On this particular day, the unit was taking part in a mock scenario where they were searching for two people who had gone missing while mushroom picking.  When the team finds them, one of the people is unconscious and far from any roads.

The group used advanced wilderness first aid skills to assess the situation, place the patient into a hypothermic wrap, build a litter to carry the patient, and proceed to carry them out to where more help would be waiting. 

This is a great example of a situation that a search and rescue team could potentially come across, and this real-life training gets them to use their knowledge and the resources they have on hand to accomplish the task, making sure they are better prepared to handle a similar real-life situation.   

We believe that to learn first aid, you need to put into practice what you've learned. For the more advanced levels of first aid, and especially Advanced Wilderness first aid, you need to be able to problem-solve, and things may not go according to plan.  You need to be able to adapt and think on your feet, and that’s why scenarios are so important.

In these types of situations, you aren’t able to carry every piece of equipment with you, but when you really know your stuff, you can improvise. You need to carry a few tools that can be used in a multitude of ways.

This type of training is something we really get excited about, and we’re pleased to share that Swift Response is looking forward to providing the Red Cross wilderness first aid program in the future, and adding it to our roster of hands-on real life training!