As a former casualty care medic with a civilian Mountain Rescue Team I am well aware of the additional hazards involved with remote first aid and the prolonged care of a casualty in locations far removed from the roadside where an ambulance can reach you and take over your patient.
You might be a brilliant first aider in the workplace and have completed many health and safety first aid at work courses but the outdoors environment is something completely different. First aid in remote, sometimes distant places will put greater stresses on you as the designated first aider.
Terrain, weather, your own fitness, time of day and seasons will all add varying factors to your thought processes when dealing with an incident.
As well as the potential complications that could arise in your casualties welfare due to their actual injury/illness, you have much more you need to consider.
Where are they? If you’re not alongside them initially, you will need to work out where they are and how you can access their location using maps, gps etc. Once you get to them, you've then got to calm down and treat them as you would normally to deal with anything that requires your immediate attention. While doing this you need to be considering the following points.
2. Evacuation Route:
How to get them to safety. You need to work out the safest way to get the casualty to roadside (normally) to handover to an NHS Ambulance or Search and Rescue Team (If at all possible). If this is not a possiblity due to the casualty location, you still need as accurate a location as possible so this can be passed to the emergency services so they can get help to you as soon as possible.
3. Can We Do it or Do We Need Help?:
Depending on your own situation, you may have to request support from Mountain Rescue (or another rescue organisation) or possibly transport them yourselves if at all possible. If not, continue care for your casualty and monitor.
4. Keeping an Eye on Your Casualty:
While they are being recovered from the incident site however, you as first aider still have to be able to continue with their care, monitoring and treatment. If you are stuck awaiting a rescue team you must still monitor your casualties condition as the following factor will be causing you issues possibly.
A major factor when caring for casualties in the open and especially remote locations. If the weather is poor, they will deteriorate rapidly. Even a minor injury can turn into something worse over time. When being evacuated they need to be kept as comfortable (as possible) and warm to slow this deterioration down. If waiting for help then the same applies.
6. Your Own Welfare:
Often forgotten, as well as the initial injured person, you have to be aware of and consider yourself and the rest of your group. Are they all alright? Do they need to rest? do they need assistance? In an ideal world, someone else in the group can manage them leaving you to concentrate on the casualty, but as first aider, always safest to keep an eye.
Consider going on a outdoor first aid course or mountain first aid course to develop your skills for these specialist environments.
This isn’t intended to be a definitive article on the subject as that would take up a whole book, but is intended to make people think and give a quick insight into the additional things that a first aider needs to be thinking about in remote locations and prolonged care. (As always, all opinions and infomation given are no replacement for a formal training course).
Red Kite SAR can provide specialist safety, medical and rescue advice, assessments and support to businesses and organisations working in remote locations.
Contact Us for details on how we can help protect your workforce.