Knowledge of basic first aid is essential for every member of the expedition team. This is best obtained by attending a first aid course. Never rely on having only one trained member on the team - it may be he or she who is injured.
All members of the expedition team should learn and practise basic first aid. Depending on how far from medical help expedition members will be operating, some will require more advanced medical training. The Medical Officer, and as many of the rest of the expedition team members as possible, would be advised to attend a specialist expedition medical training course.
Basic First Aid
This can best be learnt by attending one of the many standard courses run by organisations such as the St. Johns Ambulance or the British Red Cross.
The core first aid skills which can be expected of all expedition members should include;
- scene and casualty assessment
- control of bleeding and the treatment of shock
- management of fractures and dislocations
- care of the unconscious casualty and
safe movement of the injured patient
Expedition Medical Training
A higher level of medical training is important on expedition. Above a basic level of first aid training, expedition medical officers and as many of the expedition team members as possible should consider the following:
- Pre-expedition planning
Risk assessments prior to expedition should give consideration to destination conditions, fitness levels of team members and should include written evacuation procedures. Team members should have correct immunisations and be equipped with anti-malarials (where necessary) as well as an adequate medical kit.
- Environment related medical conditions
Recognition and treatment of environment specific medical risks. These may include heat-related illnesses (for example; dehydration, heat exhaustion) or those associated with colder environments (for example; frost nip/bite, hypothermia). Altitude sickness, and in teh tropics bites / stings, malaria and other infections.
Serious medical conditions / serious injuries
Existing medical conditions can be exacerbated and injuries worsened by conditions in remote environments. Expedition members should have an awareness of how to deal with anaphylaxis, abdominal emergencies, heart conditions, eye/ear problems, dental conditions, chest/ abdominal injuries, head/ spinal injuries as examples.
Having confidence to make the right decision is essential and will only come from attending courses and having experience in the field. Do not rely on books and manuals alone.
View guidance on the possible content of Expedition Medicine courses and/or purchase a copy of the Oxford Handbook of Expedition Medicine.
See our Delicious links directory for range of Expedition Medical Training providers.