I heard screaming in the distance as I hurried down the path. My friend was holding her hand covered in blood. A finger lay on the ground a few feet away from her. I froze in fear for a moment before I composed myself. It was a rubber finger. The blood was fake too.
It was the final afternoon of my Wilderness First Aid course. Our class was taking turns practicing our skills in different scenarios assigned by our instructor. Although it wasn’t easy to give up my weekend to study first aid in the rain, I’m so glad that I took the course. Here are five reasons you should take one too:
1. Practice for the worst case scenario
When you are more than a few hours away from medical help, you have to make difference choices than you would at home.
In my 20 hour course, we splinted broken arm bones and pelvises. We practiced moving patients with potential spinal injuries when it would be unsafe to leave them. We discussed treatment for shock and hypothermia. It’s a different approach to first aid than when an ambulance is right around the corner.
2. Get inspired to pack smarter
On your last hike, did you take enough food and warm clothing in case you had to stay out longer than you planned? What about an emergency shelter and fire starter? I know that I (like many people) am often tempted to leave safety equipment at home to travel lighter and faster. As we worked through our practice scenarios, it drove home the point that the 10 essentials are just that, essential.
3. Discover what is inside your first aid kit
You already know you should carry a first aid kit on all your outdoor adventures. But have you taken everything out and looked at it? Made sure you know how to use everything? Taking a course is the perfect excuse to move beyond the Band-Aids and tensor bandages.
4. Think outside the box
It’s not just what you have inside your first aid kit, but how creative you can be using objects around you. Taking a wilderness first aid course can help open your eyes to new possibilities. Sticks and Therm-a-rests can become splints. Logs and tarps can be made into makeshift stretchers. Small blankets can be used as a neck brace.
5. Tackle new leadership opportunities
If you want to lead groups outside, Wilderness First Aid is a great place to start. I took my first Wilderness First Aid course to work as a camp counsellor. Taking kids on 4-day camping and hiking trips was one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had. I just took the course again because I’ve started volunteering with Search and Rescue.