Happy New Year to everyone. We hope you have had a wonderful holiday and are looking forward to the adventures 2014 will bring. And what better way to welcome 2014, and to fill those difficult first few hours back in the office than to swot up on your outdoor first aid and field safety skills, to get you prepared for the 2014 field seasons.
Quiz question 1:
You are the first on the scene of a rock fall in the mountains. You are an hour’s fast walk from the nearest road and have no phone reception. You have the following casualties… what would you do?
Casualty 1 – Unconscious, fast shallow breathing, pale, cold and clammy
Casualty 2 – Alert, screaming of pelvic pain
Casualty 3 – Confused and slurred speech, small bleed from head
Casualty 4 – Conscious, panicking and broken right arm.
Firstly make sure it is safe for you to approach and shout for help, just in case anyone is nearby.
Then deal with the casualties in order of priority:
Casualty 1 – (Unconscious, fast shallow breathing, pale, cold and clammy) – is the most immediately serious – showing signs of shock – carry out basic AVPU, Airway, Breathing checks and ensure a Stable, Open, Draining Airway
Casualty 2 – Needs to be kept still, in case of a broken pelvis, they need to be reassured and monitored (perhaps by casualty 4!)
Casualty 3 – Is OK in the short term but needs the cut treating, and monitoring for signs of a compression injury.
Casualty 4 is probably going to be busy monitoring casualties 1 to 3 whilst you go and get help!
Quiz question 2:
You are part of a team of four researchers working in the Musandam Penisular in the north of Oman. You have planned to work in pairs in the field collecting field sign of Arabian leopards. You are told that there is reasonable mobile phone reception in the area. What are the key elements of your safety and emergency plans…
With such small teams, communications and emergency management back up plans are crucial. Should one team member become unwell or have an accident their partner is left in a very difficult situation. Therefore testing the mobile phone coverage and ensuring each pair has their phones, with fully charged batteries will be part of the daily routine. However you can’t always rely on these things so a simple back up plan of informing each other, and ideally an additional trusted person such as an in-country agent, of exactly the route planned each day and cut off times for return.
Expedition training and preparation is also important to ensure that all team members are aware of any specific hazards and can manage a first aid or other emergency.
Finally dynamic risk assessment is crucial – what if it turns out the terrain is far worse, or the mobile reception far more patchy… then we may have to rethink the plan, for example getting the whole team to work together.
Flexibility is the key and a constant eye on whether or not the existing safety measures are sufficient.