Keep them breathing, stop them bleeding, keep them warm!!!!

Katherine Wills book on Outdoor First Aid…..she will remind you often that she has written a book!

At the beginning of 2017 I made the decision that I was going to get out and discover North Wales and in January I went on a walk with a Meetup group and came away realising that I needed to be able to look after myself, so I decided that I needed to learn to navigate and that I should be capable of administering first aid, if required.

As a result I went on a navigation course in March with Breese Adventures which you can read about here and then I went on a First Aid course with Katherine Wills of Active First Aid.

There are lots of people out there offering First Aid courses and my key requirements were that it be relevant to the outdoors, local to me and on a weekend and for those reasons I chose one run by Katherine and having been on the course I couldn’t have made a better choice.

I sadly must admit that prior to the course I had absolutely no knowledge of first aid and if I had come upon an unconscious person or even someone who had injured themselves in some other way such as broken a bone, cut themselves badly, were having a heart attack or were diabetic and were suffering a hypo I would not have known how to help with them.

Learning how to check the vital signs of an unconscious ‘victim’

So on a rather dull overcast day I found myself at Capel Curig Community Centre with 8 other people for an Outdoors First Aid course or Rescue Emergency Care, as it is also known and of the group only two of us had absolutely no first aid experience, with the others there for a refresher as a part of their job or for their Mountain Leader qualification.

However, it is testament to both Katherine’s experience and her skills as a trainer that I came away having not only passed the course but knowing that I could go to the assistance of someone who needed it and feel confident that I could help them until the professionals arrive because that is the definition of first aid… are the first person on the scene to provide aid.

The course covers everything you need to know and at times I did wonder how I was going to remember everything but the key to Katherine’s course is that she reinforces everything with practical exercises that are conducted outdoors as delivering first aid in the wind and the rain is very different to doing it indoors.

Keeping the ‘patient’ warm!

In addition you receive a course manual when you book on the course and as she will remind you often throughout the course she has written a book and if it is your first course the best decision you can make is to buy it because over time you will forget what you have learnt unless you put it into practice.

Also key to the success of the course is that Katherine not only knows her subject and that she has put it into practice as a member of the Llanberis Mountain Rescue team but also that she delivers it in a way that you will remember. For what is a serious subject she delivers it with humour so that you will remember what you are taught.

In some respects it is more than just about just the mechanics of first aid because the other key thing that I learnt was the importance of working as a team and it is not always the most experienced person that makes the best leader. Also important is the ability to communicate and provide comfort as in some situations that is all you might be able to do.

I have often wondered why mountain leaders have such large rucksacks for a day expedition and now I know. They have a first aid kit, they will undoubtedly have a bivvy bag and might even have a roll of gaffer tape!

All these things are being added to my rucksack and the likelihood is that I might never use them but if I am called upon to help someone then I am ready to do so and I would like to think that I could keep them breathing, stop the bleeding and keep them warm and that will be all be down to Katherine and what I learnt on her course.

If like me you realise the importance of having the right skills then for first aid I would recommend that you book onto a course run by Katherine Wills of Active First Aid.

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