Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting up to date on First Aid and CPR

The American Canoe Association requires instructors to be certified in First Aid and CPR--a knowledge base that we've made use of on more than one occasion as coaches. 

In the past, we've taken the two-day Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course offered by Wilderness Medical Associates, and we've long been interested in the Wilderness Advanced First Aid and Wilderness First Responder courses. But with time and money as limiting factors, we haven't yet managed to attain those certifications. 

With our WFA about to expire, we set up a one-day American Heart Association Heartsaver First Aid course with John Browning, an ACA Level 4 Sea instructor trainer, emergency medical technician, and instructor with both the American Heart Association and Wilderness Medical Associates. This set-up allowed John to tailor the usual Heartsaver curriculum to a class mainly comprised of kayak instructors, and to add some additional wilderness and paddling-related elements.

Cap'n Browning, at the helm of the First Aid course.
The Heartsaver curriculum is very urban in its orientation. It's geared mainly toward workplace safety, and assumes a quick response from emergency personnel. By contrast, the WFA course is geared toward guides and outdoors enthusiasts on short trips away from civilization. So while the Heartsaver course emphasizes how to perform CPR (some of which recently changed) and how to staunch bleeding while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, the WFA teaches participants how to evaluate and stabilize a victim far from help. 

The course was not without its surreal moments. It is taught with the help of a slick video featuring workplace and urban scenarios that are then repeated in a studio by sweatsuit-clad actors. 

Gloves, projector, action!
Even the mannequins seemed sleepy after a full day in a small room. 

There's no question that staying current on First Aid is valuable, and we especially appreciated the additional outdoor content John provided. (His reading list alone was worth the price of admission!) But taking this course motivated us even more to get additional training in Wilderness First Aid, because most of the incidents we encounter happen outdoors.

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