One of the results of the remote rescue by QLD Ambulance was the idea of writing about the importance of first aid and survival training. Just a blog update but enough to mention a few things I consider important when adventuring out into the bush or wilderness.
1. Do not go out alone until you have a lot of experience and training. One of the basic rules of bushwalking is the go in a group, I often see this written on signs accessing great walks and remote walking tracks. There are two good reasons for this. Things can go wrong and in a group you have a better chance of rescue and survival. A group has combined knowledge and experience which makes the walk safer and provides each member of the group opportunities to learn from each other’s knowledge and experience.
2. Use every opportunity to gain knowledge and training. Take courses, short certificates in Wilderness or Remote first aid, survival, bushcraft, rewilding, bushtucker or longer TAFE and university degrees in outdoor education, environmental sciences, conservation, risk management. Knowledge is greatly beneficial but you learn far more in the field.
3. Get out there and use every opportunity to gain hands on experience. It’s simple, the more you’re out there the more you learn through applied theories, problem solving and improvising. You gain confidence in yourself and your abilities. Your mind and body will intuitively connect with wilderness, Nature, weather. Your senses will pick up subtle changes and your body will begin to respond, you will start assessing and analysing your surroundings and options before you are even aware. This level of skill can only be obtained through years of experience and willingness to let Nature be your primary teacher.
4. No matter how experienced you think you are DO NOT get complacent or over confident. Anything can and does happen. Nature does not care what your degree is or if you have been bushwalking deep in the wilderness for 60 years, she can throw a blizzard at you in the middle of summer, an avalanche under your skis, cyclones, flash floods, heatwaves, humidity, earthquakes, fly plagues, violent electrical storms as you cross exposed treeless plains. These are just a few things on land which happen more often than you imagine but how many of you know what to do to safely survive these, let alone other elements like at sea or in the air?
5. Always be prepared! Most experienced explorers, adventurers, expeditioners have had accidents. It’s part and parcel of pushing our limits and exposure to a wide variety of climate, weather and terrain. Shit happens no matter how careful, aware, experienced and prepared we are. Safety equipment, your team, training and mental strength greatly improves you chances of survival.
6. Always carry hardcopies of your maps/charts with a compass and know how to use them because electronic navigation is not infallible.
7. Carry an emergency beacon EPIRB or PLB registered with your national emergency rescue service (AMSA in Australia). Don’t rely on those toy beacons with check-ins and social media satellite compatibility, your messages don’t always get through and the emergency activation goes through a third party.
8. Know how to use your first aid kit and carry one appropriate for your adventure or expedition, whether it is a day or a year, solo or a team.
9. Let someone know where you’re going, your itinerary and when you plan to be back. Call them when you get back.
10. Let your adventure be fun without taking unnecessary risks. When you get into trouble requiring the assistance of search and rescue teams, paramedics, first responders and police you are putting other lives at risk including many volunteers. I have been on both ends of this, thankfully only once needing rescue. Rescues can have long lasting trauma effects on everyone involved.