First Aid/Safety. Minimum and maximum?

As my other post show, I’m really getting into canoeing. And with my son soon being old enough to be able to start going with my wife and I, I want to learn more about safety.

What are some good resources? Books, DVD’s? I’m going to be taking a First Responders class within the next year. But I would like to pursue it more than that. In my future job, I will probably be taking kids, ages 12-20 on canoeing and other outdoor trips. I will most likely have hired professionals to help with most things, but I want to be as educated as possible.

So aside from resources to learn. What would be a list of things that would be a must have for small short ‘adventures’?

And maybe also a large, more comprehensive list for a longer trip, such as a 5 day float trip.

I know that this is asking a lot, and hopefully there are other resources out there that already have this kind of information.



WFA/WFR/WEMT, whitewater paddling & SWR
Look for a Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, or Wilderness EMT class. The “regular” classes assume that professional medical care is only a few minutes away. The wilderness classes work on the assumption that it may be hours or days before you get help, and that you’ll be working with minimal and/or improvised equipment.

If you’re going to be running rivers at all, take a basic whitewater class and a swiftwater rescue class. You’ll have a lot of fun, and learn a lot about being safe on the river.

Pnet articles etc
I kayak, but in the end tripping is tripping and being wet is being wet. There are a bunch of decent tips on trip preparation under the Pnet columns - take a look there. They are often the kind of tips that may not be in the top 10 considerations that get mentioned, but can make a world of difference.

Also, in addition to what gets mentioned in the First Responders course it would be prudent to look at articles, videos on dressing for immersion. Young men tend to horse around in boats, or overestimate their talents, and end up swimming. Wayne Horodowich has a good video out there on sea kayaking that covers some of this, and you’ll find a great article by BCU coach George Ruta at the following link, with links to further articles and information.

Cold, wind are huge factors - and it doesn’t have to be real cold to cause a problem. The last time I had to run like heck to the car to change clothes once I was up on land after a paddle and found myself starting to shiver, I was in three layers of neoprene including a 3 ml wetsuit, a drytop, and air temps were around 67 degrees. (And now I go dry - but I doubt that you have the personal buget to buy drysuits for a group of paddlers.)

Great to hear that you have the paddling bug!

Where would one find information
about wilderness oriented classes? I’m an Arizona EMT and I agree with what you said about you are considered the 911 responder. I think with what I know I’d be okay in a multi-day situation should one arise, but one never knows. I’d be intersted in hearing what they might have to say in a wilderness oriented class. I know REI has wilderness first aid courses here, but it was mostly a 2 hour “this is how you splint a broken limb” lecture. They also covered some other points that would be helpful for a beginner, but you get my drift.

Encouragement and Caution
The world of giving medical assistance is highly regulated and the laws surrounding "good samaritan " assistance are not as straight forward as we imagine. There are several very fine national and international medical organizations that teach you a specific wilderness skills set (definitive medical care more than X hours away).

These courses are both principles of medicine and practice oriented. They vary from a weekend, 3 day, 4 day, 9-11 day (wilderness first responder, my training) to Advanced Life support, WEMT W-paramedic, etc.

An unknown bonus in taking one of these courses is that they rigorously teach you a comprehensive system of diagnosis, observation, decision making, safety, protocols, and some would say leadership training.

I highly recommend you try out a weekend course. Surprisingly it is fun, exciting, practicle and very humbling. I think it enhances the experience of being more self reliant, and allows one to be both MORE cautious when one needs to be, and to NOT be so cautious because you are better able to know when to not have to evacuate and only keep monitoring, ec.