Author Archives: trainingexpertise

Some perspective on wildlife dangers

Nice infographic from Bill Gates, gives a bit of perspective to the dangers we should consider.  People considering field safety and risk assessment will often focus on the rare, wierd and wonderful and forget that old adage – common things happen commonly…
wildlife dangers put in perspective
wildlife dangers put in perspective

You can see more on the figures from the graphic at business insider.

 

 

 

 

The Wild Network and more evidence of the importance of wildtime

Our Training Manager Dom Hall spent two days last week as a member of Nature’s Marketing Department!

The Wild Network is a growing group of people concerned about the loss of access we all (but especially kids) have to the great outdoors and their increasingly disappearing connection to nature.  It was really inspiring to see nearly 100 people coming together, giving up their time and skills to try to broaden this access and give more people this opportunity.

We’ve always been passionate about using outdoor first aid,  field safety and outdoor skills training not as a barrier, but an enabler of outdoor activities, to give instructors, teachers and parents the confidence to get out in the outdoors and enjoy its many benefits. So we were delighted that Dom could represent us at the Wild Network event where nearly 100 people from schools, outdoor educators and technical specialists came together to address challenges focused on getting people outdoors.

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So please have a look at the work of the Wild Network, and also it seemed apt to share another article published recently in the Guardian emphasising how important time outdoors is.

Latest Fieldwork and Expedition standards – NEW BS8848

We were excited to be at the RGS this week for the launch of the updated British Standard for visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities, outside the United Kingdom.  So whether you are a seasoned user of the standard, or new to it – here’s what you need to know…

BS884 - supporting safe ventures

BS8848 – supporting the safety of remote ventures around the world

What is BS8848?

BS8848 is the British standard for organizing and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventurous activities outside the UK.  It is a voluntary standard which documents established good practice and specifies the processes needed to manage overseas ventures, from gap year activities to adventure holidays and charity treks.

What does it cover?

It covers core principles such as:

  • assigning clear roles and responsibilities to those involved
  • planning ventures to help ensure key elements are not missed
  • providing clear and accurate information to participants
  • appointing competent staff with the right skills, training and know-how
  • preparing risk management plans

What has changed?

  • The good news it is shorter – the committee have aimed to make the new standard more focused on the key elements and have condensed the standard down to core principles in order to achieve this.
  • There is greater emphasis on the role of senior managers to take responsibility for the safety management systems of their organisations
  • There is also an emphasis on the importance of providing informed consent – a point emphasised by Alistair Macdonald in his key note address to the RGS conference.
  • This is backed up by again emphasising the importance of  competent staff running trips, and competent participants – especially if they are to be working independently for example on placements, or fieldwork.  As an organisation passionate about the importance of training to develop competences key to fieldwork safety, we are very pleased to see this emphasis in the standard.

Where can I find out more?

An extremely helpful element of the new standard is a free consumers guide which is available on the BSi website.  There you can also buy a full version of the standard, though it will also be available for reference from libraries etc.

As ever, we are very happy to offer help and advice, so if you would like to chat about anything about BS8848, risk management,  field safety or outdoor first aid skills then just get in touch.

First Aid Quiz time… ready, steady… GO

It is really important to keep your outdoor first aid and field safety skills up to speed, so stop what you are doing, strained your brain back to your last training course and see if you can answer these…

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

Question 1

If you read our last newsletter – this should be an easy one!

You are out skiing.  Your friend falls at speed and immediately following the incident is confused and dizzy.  A few minutes later they are feeling fine and insist they are OK and continue skiing for the rest of the day.  At dinner that evening they feel sick and leave the table.  When you go to find them they say they have been sick but are feeling OK now and just want to go to bed.  What would you do?

Answer

The simple rule is any change in conscious level, following a head injury should go to hospital to be checked by a professional.  In particular now that symptoms have got worse rather than better we would be further concerned and should monitor them very carefully and if at all possible get them checked by a doctor.  It could be a concussion or a compression – one will generally get better, the other could get worse and even be fatal – so play it safe and get them checked.  If you would like more of a recap, check out our blog on dealing with head injuries.

Question 2

You are organising a geography fieldwork trip for a group of 30 undergraduates to the Low Tatras Mountains in Slovakia.  You are preparing a risk assessment – what would be your top five considerations…

Answer

OK – lots of potential for debate in coming up with a top five but we’ve gone with:

1 – Transport – probably has to come in any top five, sadly road traffic collisions account for most of the serious incidents which occur on overseas trips

2 – Downtime – management of what the students do when not in the program of study is a tricky business which needs some thinking about!

3 – Slips and falls in a mountainous environment – here we have both the common and relatively non-severe twists, sprains and breaks, and of course more serious falls from height.

4 – Weather – any factor which is as changeable and sometime unpredictable as the weather can be a major hazards.

5 – Wolves and bears – interesting one, the chances of a wolf or bear attack is really pretty slim, but clearly the consequences could be great so that’s snuck it into our top 5!

Hope you found our field safety and outdoor first aid quiz useful. If its time for you to update your risk management,  field safety or outdoor first aid skills then just get in touch.

The key signs and symptoms of head injuries

Amid the thrills and spills of the winter olympics there was a timely reminder of the importance of wearing a helmet when skiing and snowboarding.  Sarka Pancochova from the Czech Republic fell while taking her first jump, landing on her head with so much force that her helmet was cracked in two. Thanks to the helmet, she walked away, but from an outdoor first aid point of view we thought it might be timely to refresh everyone’s memory on what to look out for in case of a bang on the head...

Massive snowboard crash but helmet saves head injuries

Massive snowboard crash but helmet saves head injuries

Remember – head injuries can be more serious than they first seem:

If there is damage inside the skull, the external symptoms may be minimal at first, so stick to the golden rule – any change in conscious level, associated with a bang to the head – get checked out at the hospital…

What to look out for:

Key symptoms, include:

  • Headaches, dizziness and nausea
  • Unequal pupils
  • Balance or visual disturbance
  • Memory loss
  • Fluid coming from ears or nose
  • Changes in mood / behaviour

Remember

These symptoms can be subtle and may develop over time, so you may see none of them intially.  Monitoring is therefore the crucial thing – and if in doubt, get checked out.

Other important symptoms are shown is this table along with important do’s and don’ts courtesy on the Headway charity.

further symptoms of head injuries

 

If you experience any of the symptoms above in the days following a head injury you should seek medical attention.

Dos and Don’ts

  • DO make sure you stay within reach of a telephone and medical help in the next few days
  • DO have plenty of rest and avoid stressful situations
  • DO show this factsheet to a friend or family member who can keep an eye on your condition
  • DO take painkillers such as paracetamol for headaches
  • DON’T stay at home alone for 48 hours after leaving hospital
  • DON’T drink alcohol until you feel better
  • DON’T take aspirin or sleeping tablets without consulting a doctor
  • DON’T return to work until you feel ready
  • DON’T play any contact sport for at least three weeks without consulting your doctor
  • DON’T return to driving until you feel you have recovered. If in doubt consult your doctor.

The Headway charity provides hugely valuable resources and information on head injuries including more on the effects of brain injury, and a collection of further resources on recognising sport concussion injuries.

This article can only cover the basics – it is no substitute for attending a full training course to learn how to carry out effective first aid and is obviously no substitute for seeing a medical professional in the case of a head injury – remember, if in doubt, get checked out.

If you would like to update your risk management,  field safety or outdoor first aid skills then just get in touch.

Field Safety and First aid Quiz

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

Following some great feedback on our New Year Quiz we plan to make the quiz a regular feature. We hope it helps you keep your skills up to date and fresh in your mind. So grab a cup of coffee, put on your best thinking hat and have a crack at these… 

 

Quiz question 1:

On returning to the youth hostel after a long day on the hills you come across an adult casualty collapsed in the car park who is unconscious and unresponsive, and not breathing. There is no one else in view what would you do…

Answer:

You need to get help first – enter the youth hostel and rouse help or make a phone call yourself.  We have to assume the casualty has had a cardiac arrest and requires early defibrillation to give them the maximum chance of survival.  As soon as you have made the call, return to the casualty and then begin CPR with 30 compressions and then 2 breaths

Quiz question 2:

You are leading a 5 day trek with a group of 10 sixth form students and one teacher in the Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica.  You are accompanied by two local guides. You are camped in a small clearing in the jungle at the end of the first day of the trek.  One of the students is taken ill with vomiting and diarrhoea.  She is sick three times over the evening and has to make numerous visits to the toilet.  By the following morning she is exhausted, feeling weak and still being sick.  What would you do…

Answer:

Not an easy one but certainly not uncommon!  And as with most scenarios the answer depends on lots of factors.  I think it is clear that the girl is not currently in a fit state to be embarking on 4 more days of trekking in the tropics.  Therefore the options are:

1 – To take a rest day with the whole group where you are.

2 –  To send the teacher and the local guide back with the sick girl and continue with the rest of the team.

3 – Turn the whole group round.

There’s never a hard and fast right or wrong here – it will depend on the experience of the teacher – the quality of the guides, the terrain you have passed through on day one and if you have time to extend the trek by a day, perhaps taking a rest day and seeing how she is on the following day.  Of course it will depend on how sick the girl is – are we happy that given a day’s rest she could walk back slowly with the teacher?  Of course we also have to consider the rest of the group – whilst we don’t want to cut short everyone’s experience we don’t want to push the group on with inadequate staffing and have to deal with a secondary issue.

My personal preferred option would be sit it out for a day.  To work with the local guide to teach the remainder of the group some jungle skills, perhaps shelter building or firelighting, then to assess and monitor the student through that day.  If she is no better by the next day then I would probably look to turn the whole team around to ensure getting her back safely.

A key thing is to ensure you have fully explained to everyone in advance that situations like this may occur and discuss what will happen.  If the only option which has ever been discussed is a 5 day trek from A to B, then it is far harder to deal with this situation when it comes up.

For the answers to both questions just follow the link to our first aid and field safety blog.

If its time for you to update your risk managementfield safety or outdoor first aid skills then just get in touch.

Jobs in the outdoors – top tips

On many of our courses, we are asked, “how do I get jobs in the outdoors which use my outdoor skills”.  So here Zoe Allen, guest blogger for Training Expertise, a writer and human resource specialist gives three top ideas for those looking for a career change into the outdoor sector:

So you have got a tight grasp on the concept of risk management, risk reduction, first aid, and field safety. You contemplate if it would be a good move to start pursuing new trails using these valuable skills, but you haven’t found the path just yet. Do not fret – there are a number of options for you to take…

Paramedic

More than just loud sirens, fast rides, and stretchers; paramedics are vital members of the medical workforce. Aside from implementing basic first aid solutions, they are responsible for performing clinical procedures as well as administering drugs. The most dedicated, focused, and adept will be successful paramedics.

Outdoor activities will be a terrific base for developing future skills as a paramedic. Outdoor first aid is definitely a must-learn. The Health Professions Council (HPC) regulates the paramedic selection process, said How2Become. Moreover, they ensure that only the most dedicated and proficient are accepted through a series of assessments that measure commitment and competence.

Liverpool John Moores University lecturer John Ambrose recommends getting a degree in paramedic science. He said that although there are many things to learn in the university, there are skills that cannot be taught such as grace under pressure and sympathy. Taking extra-curricular courses in outdoor first aid, wilderness first aid, and emergency management is a wise move should one choose this career path.

work and train in the outdoors

work and train in the outdoors

Mountain Guide

Those with a passion for trekking and mountaineering will find this career path the perfect job. Along with extensive knowledge in risk management techniques and group leadership, mountain guides have deep knowledge about nature and the environment. Only those with a vast amount of experience under their belts may become professional mountain guides. It can be a long haul thought, a diploma is awarded to a successful trainee only after four to five years of dedicated education.

The British Mountain Guides (BMG) assesses and trains future mountain guides in many forms such as mountaineering, trekking, skiing, or classic climbing. According to their official website, they primarily promote safety and good practice along with enjoyment in climbing. “The requirements for joining the BMG training scheme are that you should have completed approximately 50 routes of E1/5b, a similar amount of British Winter routes at Grade IV/V,” mentions the BMG. 

International Teacher

Teaching might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the words ‘outdoor’ and ‘risk management’. However, these skills that are typically meant for exterior professionals fit perfectly with this job. Environment specific courses are especially designed for individuals to experience and appreciate the nature the world has to offer, in safety. Therefore, a career in teaching abroad would definitely benefit from these skills. Volunteers who teach children in the most remote of locations and unfamiliar landscapes, researchers in the academe that scour the deepest of jungles, teachers of depressed communities – all of them are admirable career paths that are supplemented by training.

Becoming an overseas teacher requires a degree in the specialization one desires. The only other requirement is the ability to fluently speak English. “International schools are looking for proven performers who can hit the ground running and are capable of managing their own classroom independently,” explained Forrest Broman, President of The International Education.

These are only three careers among many where risk reduction, disaster management, first aid, and other outdoor related skills flourish. Are you up for the challenge of these off the beaten paths? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Zoe Allen is a writer and human resource specialist. As part of her continuing education, she currently researches on the recent trends in the job market. Catch her on Twitter.

If you’d like to learn more about its time for you to update your risk management,  field safety or outdoor first aid skills then just get in touch.

Field Safety and outdoor first aid quiz

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. 

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

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.

Answer:

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!

If you would like to update your skills check out our outdoor first aid and expedition first aid courses.

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…

Answer:

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.

If its time for you to update your risk management,  field safety or outdoor first aid skills then just get in touch.