PMBA First Aid Course The Sequel

Published on: Mar 17 2014 by Jon Swift

LogoIt's been three years since PMBA last organised an outdoor first aid course and the certificates of the people who attended were running out so we decided it was about time we organised another course. 

A key part of PMBA's remit is to provide background support for those people volunteering in the community whether it be trail building, organising events, guidling or running local clubs. One of the key things all these people need is first aid training. So we got in touch with our favourite first aid providers, Lancashire First Aid, and asked them if they'd run us another course. They were happy to help and even offered us a fairly substantial discount over their normal fees.

We chose to have the course at Gisburn seeing as a significant number of the attendees were volunteer diggers with the Gisburn trail builders. The Forest Den Cafe very kindly let us use the upstairs room for free and we had the forest to play in for our outdoor practical sessions (rolling around in the mud getting wet).  

We managed tlancsfirstaidlogoo get 20 willing volunteers to attend from a wide range of mountain biking groups including the Gisburn Forest Trail builders, Blackburn and District Mountain Bikers, The Empire / PMBA Enduro team, local coaches and Brownbacks grass roots racing.

The course was delivered over two days by the Lancashire First Aid instructors, Keith Gillies, Ian Ordish and David Matthews, all very experienced First Aid providers and active members of Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team. To be honest we couldn't have had better, more appropriate trainers, people who know the outdoors providing outdoor specific training.

resuscianneDay one consisted of refreshing ourselves with the basics of first aid, or quite simply the ABC of first aid, Airway, Breathing and Circulation. Following this vital system can be the difference between life and death in extreme situations, there's no point in applying the most fantastic bandage when your poor casualty is choking to death on their helmet strap! The training was very simple, practicing the system repeatedly on a carpet casualty (led on their back, arms by their sides on the carpet) each time adding a little bit more to the process and consolidating what had already been learnt.

We did of course get to play with Resusci Anne, or at least half of her, to hone our C.P.R. technique. Think she's no looker, you should see her without her face! We also got to play at splinting and bandaging our hapless casualties, surprising what you can do with a carry mat and some gaffer tape (I kid you not).

The course was very hands on with lots of practice and more practice with a little bit of power point in between (and a few nasty photos).

Day 2 saw us recapping day 1 and moving from a carpet casualty to an outdoor casualty, lying in an awkward position. It was surprising how much difference being outside in a real environment changed the game. Despite most of us getting pretty slick at following the system inside in the warmth of the cafe moving outside to the wilds of the Forest Den garden proved enough of a challenge, suddenly the slopes made it difficult to turn our casualties over, the rain was unpleasant and people were watching us! It certainly proved the worth of doing a practical outdoor first aid course rather than simply sitting in front of a screen all day.

1stAid4In the afternoon we moved onto more realistic situations amongst the trees. The casualties were briefed on the incident and sent off amongst the trees to play dead whilst the first aiders had to locate, assess and stabilise their casualty before leaving them to summon help on foot (no phone signal at Gisburn). We rounded off the day with a Holby style major incident with casualties and walking wounded all over the place. One of the team assumed the role of incident commander whilst the rest of us tried to separate the noisy from the dying, hint the quiet ones were the ones doing the dying.

It was a busy two days and we could all have done with a weekend off to recover afterwards but it was a really good experience for those that had done a course before and those attending for the first time. No one can tell how they will react in a real emergency but knowing you have some training to fall back on is a real benefit and may just keep someone alive long enough to let the professionals arrive and whisk the injured off to hospital. If you get the opportunity it's a course we really recommend you do although we hope you'll never have to use what you learnt in anger. Lancashire First Aid regularly run course open to anybody to attend.

The course was very generously funded by the Forestry Commission at Gisburn (who also paid for our refreshments), Lancashire County Council via contributions to PMBA and the Gisburn Volunteer trail builders fund. We also need to thank the Forest Den cafe for use of their room over the weekend and keeping us fed and watered.

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