Tag Archives: travel safety

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Inspiration for your 2014 adventures from National Geographic Adventurer of the year

With 2014 fast approaching we thought you might like some inspiration for the coming year – and where better to look than to National Geographic Adventurer of the year. The list includes a man who jumped from space, an exploratory kayaker completing the first descent of the world’s largest rapids by paddling the Congo River’s Inga Rapids and Humanitarian Shannon Galpin, a women’s rights activist and mountain biker who brings a photographic survey to a country in the grip of war.

National Geographic Adventurer of the Year

Some expedition skills are trickier than others

There is inspiration for all of you to get out on expedition, or to hone your outdoor skills – the video summary alone is well worth a good look!

 

Risk Assessment at Explore at the RGS

Dom was at the RGS Explore conference this year running a seminar panel session on tropical forest expeditions and also speaking about how a risk assessment can save your life. Here are his thoughts on an inspirational weekend….

The Explore conference is a wonderful annual event at which expeditioners, new and old, come together to inform, inspire and assist each other to make some wonderful expedition ideas a step closer to reality.

RGS Explore - Risk assessment

How the twittersphere captured Dom’s RGS talk… slightly wonky!

I had the, perhaps dubious, honour of being asked to speak on the subject of risk assessment. Of course, it is always an honour to be asked to speak at such a wonderful venue, but amid talks of exciting adventures, inspiring fieldwork and daring do, it can be a tricky job to engage people in the topic of risk assessment.

However, listening to speaker after speaker, I began to realise the extent to which risk assessment is embedded in every expedition – in fact though they rarely mentioned it by name, speakers regularly referred to how they managed risks on their trips.

Olivia Taylor from the Cambridge Trollaskagi Expedition talked of how they selected a location where they knew they could access mountain rescue support, if needed. Three doctors from Cornwall to Cape Town reflected on their decision to buy their tyres on ebay for £100 and seasoned explorer Paul Rose talked of applying pre-planning and dynamic risk assessments on swimming with walrus and filming polar bears. Even the irrepressible Dave Cornthwaite was pictured skate boarding in a helmet and high-vis vest!

So there it was, though no one likes to talk about risk assessment, they are all doing it.  Adventurers want to come back safely and they need to convince funders that they will. So they all plan, they all consider the things that might go wrong – and they all assess and re-assess the risks they face and change their plans accordingly. The sooner we can shift the impression of risk assessment to this practical, pragmatic and hands-on approach and away from a pen-pushing, tick boxing exercise – the sooner people will truly engage with it and the safer we will be.

As ever Explore was a wonderful event, inspiring, informative and enabling, I’m already looking forward to next year.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to risk management and our courses on field safety and outdoor first aid then just get in touch.

First aid in Africa

Jon has recently spent a week in Kenya supporting a program by the Irish charity, Friends of Londiani, to develop first aid skills in remote parts of Kenya:

‘My week with Friends of Londiani was busy and rewarding.  Friends of Londiani are an NGO who provide health training programmes for the communities in and around the Londiani district in NW Kenya.

Supporting remote first aid in Kenya

Wilderness first aid in Africa

We’ve been working with them over the past few years to develop their own Wilderness first aid training programme to train the local volunteer Community Health Workers in basic first aid skills to help them in their roles.  Ultimately, the aim is for those workers to go in turn and train the communities in basic first aid as an essential life skill. We have been delighted to support and help develop this long term, sustainable plan to cascade training.

The week in Kenya represented the next step in that work, supporting the charity staff, to develop new Kenyan trainers and then together running a bespoke Wilderness First Aid course for 30 Community Health Workers.

It was a successful and fulfilling week, paving the way for further initiatives in other communities both in and outside of Kenya.’

If you would like to know more about our work in Kenya, or our field safetyrisk management and outdoor first aid training in the UK, don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your plans.

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.

RGS Explore 2013 – Top weekend for all expeditioners

We are delighted that Training Expertise will again be at the RGS Explore conference, the year’s top expedition weekend event.  It is on the 15th to 17th Nov and early bird booking is open NOW! We’re pleased to announce that Business Manager Dom will be speaking on the main stage about practical solutions to risk management in field safety.  He will  also be chairing the tropical forest panel.

We’re really looking forward to it and hope as many of you as possible will be able to join us there. There are lectures, workshops and exhibits to help organise your own expedition or field research projects in a variety of environments and disciplines. Over 90 leading field scientists and explorers to provide inspiration, contacts and advice over the course of this unique weekend.

What’s more there is an early bird booking discount available NOW of just £75 and only £55 for students and under 25s! Full details of the conference and how to book is available at the RGS website.

Vehicle safety on expeditions overseas

New Training Expertise Business Manager Matt Ilott has just returned from leading an amazing school expedition to Cambodia with our partners at Wilderness Expertise.  He’s been reflecting on one of the biggest challenges we face when working overseas – vehicle safety.

One of the hardest elements of expedition travel safety – when it can be hardest to control the team and their safety is undoubtedly when using vehicles. Splitting the team to fit into the forms of transport available, be it Tuk-Tuks, taxis or minivans can be a real challenge, with hectic roads and language barriers. 

Cambodia expedition vehicle safety

vehicle safety on overseas expedition in Cambodia

It is crucial to know what to look for when assessing the vehicle safety, the driver and their driving.  So, some top tips:

  • WHO is driving – select trusted drivers, get local recommendations, ensure they are licensed and fit to drive
  • WHAT are they driving – is the vehicle appropriate and in good working order
  • WHEN they are driving – when did the driver last take a break…
  • WHERE are they driving – plan routes and avoid known hotspots, busier times of day where possible
  • HOW are they driving – don’t be afraid to say STOP and get out!

If you’d be interested in discussing any training in dynamic risk assessmentfield safety or vehicle safety on expedition, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you know of a school looking for an amazing adventure next year, check out Wilderness Expertise’s outstanding school expeditions.

Remote first aid and altitude illness training on Kili

We were delighted to recently run a unique outdoor first aid and specialist wilderness medical course on managing altitude illness in Moshi, Tanzania.  Participants were trekking leaders or assistant leaders working for UK holiday company, Explore on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Remote medical training on Kili for altitude illness

Remote medical training on Kili for altitude illness

This systematic and specialised training course makes the attendees one of the most highly trained and skilled teams of guides working on Kilimanjaro.  The training allows the team to competently respond to and manage common wilderness medical and altitude problems.

The first two days covered core outdoor first aid skills culminating in a one hour long ‘major incident’ scenario involving three simulated patients, each of which had with trauma and medical issues to be managed.

The third day was a specialist expedition first aid course dedicated to altitude illness training, covering

• Teaching and discussion based altitude illness training
• Use of a Portable Altitude Chamber
• Presentation of case studies

Participants reported that the training course gave them greater knowledge and built their confidence in dealing with first aid incidents and especitally in managing altitude illness.

If you’d be interested in discussing any training in expedition and wilderness first aid or outdoor first aid training please don’t hesitate to get in touch.