First Aid class ideas

I’m going to give a class on first aid and was wondering what some of the common injuries that most of you see out there paddling?

I alredy figure on talking about hypothermia, and burns (from sun and fires)and fish hook injuries.

Sprains NM

most common injuries

– Last Updated: Oct-30-11 11:51 AM EST –

Lacerations, ankle sprains and fractures, finger fractures and dislocations, shoulder dislocations, insect bites and stings, poison ivy exposure.

Hernias from loading the boats !
Jack L

Adding to this list: Blisters and
overuse injuries in shoulders and wrists.

I think the hardest part of hypothermia is recognizing it in the real world. So try to present your students with some realistic portrayals of mild hypothermia. (someone who is just acting a little different, says they don’t want another coat when asked, insists they’re not cold, etc.) I’ve missed this myself, until the person started shivering, because it’s really hard to recognize before it develops into moderate hypo.

My take home lesson was that you are not likely to recognize mild hypothermia unless you are really looking for it. So consider the circumstances, and if you think they might be cold, don’t ask if they want a coat - give it to them and tell them to put it on.

Thanks for all the good suggestions so far. Love the hernia one from liffting the boats LOL!

I have quite a bit of experience in the field of hypothermia as I taught lifesaving and swimming lessons for 7 yrs, was on the National Ski Patrol for 15 yrs and have been teaching Ice Rescue for fire departments for 5 yrs. Plus I have over 33 yrs as a full time Paramedic on an ambualnce and 15 yrs of working in an ER so I’ve seen quite a few people injured or ill.

I guess my wife and I have been lucky as we have yet to have any blisters from paddling and usually do around 20-25 miles per day. I’m used to seeing people getting blisters on their feet from backpacking or hiking. But I guess paddlers can get blisters on theri feet and especially their hands.

Sugar level issues
Sorry - forgot this one earlier. Many people who tend to have low sugar levels without being dependent on medication underestimate their needs when they start a new physical activity. It doesn’t take more than something like a sweet nut bar to handle it, but it’s worth being attentive to. I tend to find that the Sweet n’ Salty nut bars work well - one or two keep well in a PFD pocket and they are nice to eat on the way home from the paddle if I haven’t handed them out.

Also, for moderate sugar issues they may be a safer choice than the sports goo.

A lot of people don’t drink enough while paddling. Often their water bottle isn’t easily accessible (in a hatch, inside a cockpit with a spray skirt on or under bungies, but they don’t stop paddling to drink because they are struggling to keep up or struggling with water conditions). Others don’t drink enough water because they don’t want the hassles of going to the bathroom.

Head injuries and sting rays
Twice I’ve seen a tall husband and short wife result in the wife getting a boat dropped on her head. Instant cold packs are your friend here.

Once I met someone on a remote beach suffering from something stinging the bottom of their foot. The cold pack helps them too.

I also carry the big roll bandages in case someone slips on a rock and scrapes up the back of their head (Don’t wear regular Crocs on rocks). You can bleed an awful lot from a scrape on your head.

My list includes




injuries of all types from falls

puncture wounds and stings and fish bites (yes bluefish are voracious)

headaches from glare on the water


exacerbation of existing medical conditions (asthma made worse by dehydration and prescription meds that say do not expose yourself to sun)

Foot Intrapment
Not an injury but could easily become one.

Allergic Reactions
Don’t forget allergic reactions. A couple of months ago I discovered I have a bad allergy to an unknown substance. It can happen to anyone at anytime.


What authority?
I teach Wilderness First Aid (among other classes like CPR-Pro and Lifeguarding) under the authority of American Red Cross. There are standards for what material one must cover within the class. You can put additional emphasis on topics depending on your audience, but there is usually a minimum format required by any authorizing agency. I assume you will be granting certifications for this class? Double check what you need to do before the class to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Good luck!