One of the worries of an expedition is the medical side of things.  What happens if I get injured or sick?  Who can I rely on to ensure my safety?  It’s one of those things that you have very little control over, yet if the worst were to happen, you want to ensure you did everything in your power to ensure good health.

I was fortunate enough to meet Steve Blethyn at Yestival where I announced my plans to walk the length of India (you should get along to it this year – it’s epic!).  Steve runs Beyond First Aid, a company that provides medical courses and knowledge to meet the needs of any individual.  Steve very kindly offered to help with the medial side of the expedition, not only providing me with the travel and vaccine advice for India, but also inviting me to attend one of his courses to give me the confidence in my knowledge to perform First Aid.  People that know me well know that I’m not one to head into a medical-based scenario voluntarily, so even attending a course would be a big step forward!

A week ago I joined Steve on his one-day Sports First Aid course.  The agenda was jam-packed, but the way Steve had structured the agenda meant that it was very simple to understand how to approach First Aid right from the moment you come across a casualty.

The two vital components to life are oxygen (lungs) and blood (heart), and that, we learnt, is the most important thing to look for before anything else.  And if both of them are not happening, we should apply CPR.  Luckily we were able to try out our newly learnt skills on a mannequin rather than each other.  We quickly moved onto the “Clear Airway” position (AKA recovery position) if a patient is unconscious but breathing, which we all took great pleasure in providing a level of ‘dead weight’ awkwardness come our turn to practice.

 Olie trying his hand at chest compressions

Olie trying his hand at chest compressions

Just before lunch, we had the opportunity to cover choking (praying we wouldn’t need to use it immediately), trying on Steve’s unique anti-chocking simulator, which demonstrated it’s really not as easy as it looks on TV!

 George tries his best to ensure Olie doesn't choke

George tries his best to ensure Olie doesn't choke

The afternoon session was more classroom-based, starting off with flesh wounds.  Steve has a plethora of stories from his ambulance days, which he is all too happy to share in rather too much detail for my liking, particularly following lunch.  Luckily no one had to leave the room, and we were able to practice bandaging a wound on one another.

 The walking wounded show off the treatment they received from fellow students

The walking wounded show off the treatment they received from fellow students

Throughout the rest of the afternoon we were able to cover sprains and breaks, penetration wounds, internal bleeding and head injuries, all with equally graphic photos which I quickly learnt only to look at once I’d gauged the reaction of the rest of the class!  The day culminated with a short written test to demonstrate our learning, before we were presented with a certificate of achievement.

 Everyone passed the written and practical test to get their qualification

Everyone passed the written and practical test to get their qualification

I hope I am never in a situation where I need to apply my First Aid skills, but the course proved to be an excellent refresher, and has provided me with the confidence that I could deal with a First Aid situation should one arise.

Steve has also provided me with a small trekking first aid kit and a sterile needle kit should any emergency arise in India.

So, if you’re in the market for a First Aid qualification, in need of a refresher course, or are after a First Aid kit for your expedition, then do get in touch with Steve at Beyond First Aid and he will be more than willing to help.

Photo credit: Daniel Varga

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