By Islam El Shazly
Photography by Islam El Shazly

How many times have you ever been in a situation where all of a sudden you or someone around you needed urgent emergency medical assistance but there was no one to help, because no one had a clue how to save or help that person? I know I’ve been there at least a couple of times!

Alder Trail

The trail head sign for Alder trail at Bragg Creek Provincial Park in Alberta during our first field day.

Accidents and emergency situations are a fact of daily life, everything and anything at any given time can be potentially harmful; even something that is completely benign to you might be lethal to someone else, and if you are not prepared the worst case scenario is more than likely to occur.

Tarp shelter

My team’s cosy quick emergency shelter built with a tarp, a couple of triangulars, some branches, and a hiking pole. Great in a pinch!

Last month I had the opportunity to attend –and get certified in — the Adventure Medic course offered by Rocky Mountain Adventure Medicine. The course teaches Wilderness First Aid, which, as the name implies, deals mostly with first aid in remote locations, where you are at least an hour away from “definitive medical care,” be it on a safari in the jungle or desert, a hiking or mountaineering expedition, or even just at your work place that happened to be removed from civilisation.

What we learned in the course and the field training was eye-opening to say the least.

First Aid Kit

My first aid and trauma kit, this one is large enough for a small group or a single family on a small day trip or weekend excursion.

CPR, AED, and extreme emergency medical procedures have become part of our daily lives, thanks for the most part to Hollywood and all those medical and police procedurals. The scary thing is that some of these practices, as we came to learn in the course, are quite misleading, and can be borderline dangerous if performed by anyone, while others are just simply comic in their absurdity.

There’s the magic thump on the chest of an unconscious, un-breathing victim accompanied by a loud “breath #$%dammit” or “I love you”, and it’s enough to bring them back; and there’s the dramatic “Bic tube” through the throat to clear an airway; and if that’s not enough, cutting open an area bitten by a venomous snake to suck-and-spit the poison!!!

My all time favourite has got to be the Hulk roaring at an-almost-dead Iron Man and bringing him back…

A thick canopy

My view while lying down during one of the many training scenarios on our second field training day. It was my turn to be practised on!

That said, knowledge is everything, and being prepared could help you save a life one day. Being able to stand out in the crowd in the site of an incident and say “I know first aid; I can help” could mean the difference between life and death for someone; and the satisfaction of just being able to help is priceless.

So here’s a tip, find out where you can get a first aid course in your area and join the class and be prepared; you never know when you will need to save somebody.

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