In preparation for an upcoming workshop I went in search of a short blog or white paper on why first aid training is important. Generally, the answer to the question is self-evident. But I thought I would find something with statistics. Or, at the very least, a good overview to remind individuals who were spending time learning valuable lifesaving skills, that their new skills transcended the “emergency.”
My clients have heard me say, “You can do everything right and something can still go wrong.” Yes, that is the reality of things. But, there are things you can do as an individual that reduce the chance of injury, reduce the level of risk and makes you a valuable partner in the event of an emergency.
Unable to find what I wanted, here are my thoughts as to why first aid training for everyone going into the backcountry is important.
YOU Are Prepared to React. Sometime you might be involved in an emergency. What do you do? How will you react? After taking a first aid workshop you have had the benefit of role playing scenarios and hypothetical situations. You have listened to your instructor share their situations and how they reacted. You have practiced the basics of care and have reviewed in your head how you will react when a situation presents itself.
Example: emergency situation >> stay calm, take a breath, check the victim
Helps Save Lives. The obvious answer. In an emergency, there are a few immediate steps that if done, in order (i.e. airway, breathing, circulation) can help save a life. Individuals not first aid trained will likely step into a scenario with good intentions but an individual trained in first aid might do so with greater confidence, with less reluctance and with more reliable implementation of the skills they have been taught.
Example: struck by lightning and victim is not breathing >> administer CPR
Better Management of the Small Stuff. Individuals with first aid training will often take the time needed to address small problems before they turn into the bigger problems. This is the difference between continuing a trip and evacuating a patient. Additionally, individuals with first aid training are teaching others self-care to remedy future episodes or, at least, the need for the “trained person” to have to bandage every boo boo.
Example: blister hot spot >> treat the spot to prevent a blister
Stop the Escalation. There are injuries that will result in death. For those injuries, combined with time and distance from immediate medical support, environment, terrain and equipment, there is nothing that can be done. Many times, there are injuries that can become life threatening without positive temporary treatment. Individuals with first aid training will often recognize the progression, or immediacy, of a scenario whereby their skills can stop the escalation of bad to really bad.
Example: finding an unconscious diabetic >> initiate sugar
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. ~Benjamin Franklin
One will often look at the world a bit differently with a little bit of knowledge. And, in the backcountry, thinking ahead, pondering the possibilities, managing the what ifs, often greatly reduces the occurrences of injury and accidents. Think of yourself as visualizing one step ahead and staving off the exposure of potential complications.
Example: too close to a campfire >> setting distance boundaries and perimeters
Reassures Others. People like knowing that someone in their group is trained and can assist in the event of an emergency scenario. Additionally, non-trained individuals are more readily accepting of ques from an individual who is looking out for their best interest and might be persuaded to get training of their own.
Example: is everyone drinking and maintaining their hydration >> let’s stop for a moment and have a sip of water