Understanding the basics of first aid is knowledge that everyone should prioritize, especially if you plan on remote, outdoor fun. In the backcountry, something as minor as a small, open wound can turn into a critical, life threatening situation. Not to mention, the risk of tripping, falling or injuring yourself on sharp rocks or fallen branches. Even the most experienced hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and outdoorsmen have sustained serious injuries in the backcountry and need immediate assistance. The resources listed in this post will give you the information you need to attain first aid training before you take your family in the backcountry. This post will also inform you of the right people to call in case of a life threatening situation.
Basic First Aid:
Sign up at your local Red Cross or Community Center. Usually these classes take one or two days to complete (on a weekend), and provide basic first-aid training and CPR certification. If you are crunched for time (or need to fit the class in during nap time), you can sign up for an online first-aid/CPR certification class. These classes may take longer since you are going at your own pace, but you will learn the same information. The cost of these classes vary, but in the scheme of things, is inexpensive. The knowledge you learn from these classes will provide you with a lifelong knowledge of basic first aid, and will benefit you and your family for years to come!
Wilderness First Aid:
Wilderness first-aid courses (WFA) are essential for those venturing into the backcountry frequently. Even the summer time, front country campers who occasionally hike would benefit from taking this course. While it is priced moderately high, it is life-saving information you would want to know if you ever faced a life threatening situation. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
and the Red Cross
are a just a few organizations that offer wilderness first-aid training. Programs that are led by companies like NOLS and REI will also offer speciality classes to add onto your WFA certification to increase your knowledge and understanding.
Who To Call In An Emergency:
If you do not have an emergency beacon, and frequently go "off-grid," purchasing one should be a top priority. Cell phones won't help you when you have no service. First and foremost, you should already have an emergency plan set up within your group and also with your loved ones at home. Your family or friends should have a detailed itinerary with your whereabouts, the make, model, and license plate number of your car; and also a date and time you will return. Protocol should suggest a time to call the authorities if you haven't checked in. If you are experiencing an emergency: -Call 911: They can help you get in touch with Search & Rescue (SAR) if needed. -SAR contacts will vary by state
. It is important that you know this information before heading out on your adventure.
Critical situations arise suddenly, without warning. Always be prepared for the unexpected. Acquire the knowledge you need to survive in a worst-case scenario. Remember to always bring your 10 essentials on every trip, whether in the front country or backcountry. Never depart on a trip without communicating with at least one person. That person could help authorities and SAR teams save your life. Be safe and have fun!
Written by Lindsay Helm