Tag Archives: outdoor safety

Outdoor activities with young people – quiz

We’ve just launched our new forest schools outdoor first aid course specifically focused on those working with young people in the outdoors.  So this quiz focuses on a few scenarios to get you thinking about first aid and field safety planning for outdoor activities with young people – for all you first aiders, outdoor instructors and parents – get swotting up…

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

Question 1

You are running a forest schools session when an 8 year old trips and falls, putting his arm into a fire.  There are no obvious blisters but the arm is red and clearly very sore – what do you do?

Answer

The simple and easy treatment for burns is cold water, cold water, cold water.  Ideally you want to get it under a running tap and keep running cool water over it until is stops hurting. If you are in the woods and not immediately by a tap, tipping water over it and catching the water in a bucket and then repeating can be a good way of keeping water running over the area with a limited supply.  Does it need to go to hospital?  Obviously if in any doubt, get checked out, but as a rough guide a blister the size of your hand should be checked out, a superficial burn (red, with no blister) should go to hospital if it is the area of five hand palms (of the casualty!).

Question 2

You are running a rock climbing session with a group of teenagers.  One of the students knocks a loose rock about the size of an apple from the crag.  It hits another student in the head. She was wearing a helmet and is conscious and insists she is fine.  Half an hour later one of their friends tells you they’ve been feeling sick and dizzy though the student herself insists to you she feels fine.  What do you do?

Answer

The simple rule with head injuries is better safe than sorry.  Any change in conscious level, related to a bang on the hand should be checked out in hospital.  In this case, it says the student was conscious, but with symptoms deteriorating (feeling sick and dizzy after the event) this is cause for concern and certainly a reason to get it checked out.

Obviously aside from the medical issue there is the matter of how you handle the fact that the student is saying they are fine.  This comes down to soft skills which can be every bit as important as the first aid skills in getting across gently but firmly the potential risks and the need to be checked out.

There are also the practical considerations which will depend on the circumstances of the age of the students, the number of staff or other responsible people available etc.  These factors will determine how you handle the logistics of getting that person to the hospital whilst ensuring the safety of other participants.

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

Are your hill skills up to this new challenge…

This is really a new one on all of us in the office, but two walkers trapped in a forest of rhododendron plants really made for an unusual mountain rescue situation!

hill skills

The spread of non-native rhodedendron plants has been hotly debated on environmental grounds but it looks like there is a whole new mountain safety and hill skills element we hadn’t considered!

 

Gabon themed field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

We are busy packing and preparing for one of our team to head off to Gabon for ten days of first aid trainingrisk assessment and emergency management and remote worker support for a new project starting up out there.  So since it’s been a while since our last refresher quiz – what better than a little Gabon themed quiz to top up your outdoor first aid and field safety skills…

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

Field safety and outdoor first aid quiz

 

Question 1

You are managing a remote field camp in Gabon.  One of your team takes a big fall whilst scrambling on a rocky outcrop, twenty minutes walk from the camp.  They land on their front, they are unresponsive but you can detect breathing.  You are on your own with no phone reception… what would you do?

Answer

The answer is… it depends! What it mainly depends on is are they now in a STABLE, OPEN, DRAINING AIRWAY position – if so, you could make them safe, protect from the elements and go to find help.  However if they are not, you would have to adjust the position to ensure their airway and breathing is maintained whilst you are away.  Move them as little as possible, support the head and neck – but you must make sure their airway will be maintained whilst you are away from them.

Question 2

You are working in a remote field area of Gabon.  On a trek deep into the forest you discover a river blocks your path into a target study site.  What considerations would you make in deciding whether or not to cross the river?

Answer

Rivers can potentially be a serious hazard and sadly drowning does occur on overseas trips.  Therefore we would need to make a number of careful assessments – all of which will be governed by the overall principle: “If in doubt – stay out”!

We;d have to recommend some more training such as our RLSS Water Safety Management Programme, but some considerations would be:

1 – How crucial is this particular site – we have to balance up risk and benefit – an element of risk management which is too often forgot

2 – Your own experience and knowledge of rivers and river crossings

3 – The speed and depth of the water

4 – The entry and exit points

5 – Any hazards in the water, currents, entrapment objects, animals, water borne disease…

6 – If it rains whilst I am on the other side – what will the river look like then…

The number of considerations and the knowledge and experience required to judge all these things takes us back to where we originally started… “If in doubt, stay out”.

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

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.

m-53343f177e3b1

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.

Risk Management for Adventure – top tips

Dom was recently asked to write an article about risk management for adventure, we thought we’d share his thoughts:

Even amongst the general public the words risk assessment are enough to create a range of reactions from a scowl, a yawn or even an angry growl.  So trying to use the words amongst the fun loving, live and let live, freedom and self-determining adventure world can be a real challenge. At best it can be seen as a paper pushing nuisance and worse still as a barrier to people’s passions and dreams or even to their safety.

On the other hand, most of us accept that if you want to plan an adventurous expedition to a remote mountain range it would be pretty fool hardy to set off with no prior planning, to jump on a plane, with no kit or equipment, no idea what to expect, what the conditions are likely to be like etc. As soon as you start to consider these kind of issues you are risk assessing – long before you go near a form or a spreadsheet.

So how do we make risk assessment and field safety simple, practical and easy:

  • A written risk assessment is important proof that you made sensible and reasonable steps to do things safely
  • But remember it is just that – sensible and reasonable things – don’t try to write down every possible eventuality or reams of paperwork, it should be a usable, practical and most importantly flexible document
  • Think of practical and simple ways to build dynamic risk assessment into your every day activity, keep your eyes open for changing circumstances, use team meetings to discuss changing plans, or keep an expedition diary or log
  • Involve everyone in practical solutions for risk management – it is a culture and not a piece of paper.

We run field safetyrisk management and outdoor first aid throughout the year, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your plans.

You can read the full article at the Adventure Medic website to see more tips at advice on adventure risk management.

Mountain safety – carbon monoxide in tents

A new study has further illustrated the potential field safety dangers of carbon monoxide in tents, especially with modern, highly waterproof and airtight tents where levels of poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) from the burning stove can build up fast.

carbon monoxide in tents

mountain safety – danger of carbon monoxide in tents

A small scale study from several Michigan emergency room doctors suggested the type of stove fuel used and the type of tent can make a difference.

It is important for mountain safety that anyone working on remote expeditions through to duke of edinburgh trips in the UK is aware of the issues and has the outdoor skills and outdoor first aid knowledge to take precautions and to treat any potential cases.

To read more about the full findings of the study see the full article here.

 

Interesting reflections on rope swings, kids adventure and risk management

Here’s an interesting blog we came across this morning.  Some very interesting thoughts on insurance, the realities of risk and the importance of risk benefit analysis in outdoor adventures for kits: //rethinkingchildhood.com/2013/07/10/rope-swings-insurance/