First Aid – Why You Should Know It

January 13, 2014 D'Arcy McLeish

There are a few skills that I see as a must in life. Swimming, for instance, is one of the more important skills you can learn. Not only does it open doors into other sports like surfing, it’s something that will not only save your life, but probably someone else’s. Another one is first aid. Learning basic and even advanced first aid is something anyone can do. For those of us that spend time in the mountain environment, I see it as an absolute must in any endeavor. What surprises me is how few people, but especially how few people who spend time in the mountains, actually take the time to learn basic first aid skills. Even something as simple as a CPR course could help save a person’s life.

First Aid Is A Huge Part Of Guide Training At Last Frontier... Photo - Jun Yanagisawa
First aid is a huge part of guide training at Last Frontier…
Photo – Jun Yanagisawa

The mountains can be an unforgiving place. Navigating through the mountain environment as a backcountry enthusiast is never without risk. While learning the basics of avalanche or crevasse rescue is important, first aid skills are really the core rescue skill that everyone who heads out into the wilderness should have at least a limited grasp of.

Stay Safe...so You Can Do More Of This.  Photo - Caton Garvie
Stay safe…so you can do more of this.
Photo – Caton Garvie

Avalanches and crevasse falls aren’t that common and for the most part, can be avoided through good decision making. But hurting yourself is a different story. How many of you skiers and riders out there have crashed and injured yourself? Knee injuries, twisted ankles, broken wrists and sometimes even more severe injuries can result from just plain bad luck. Maybe someone clips a rock or snags a tree branch? Even a minor injury can turn a mellow day ski touring into an epic one.

You Don't Always Have A Guide... Photo - Rand Lincks
You don’t always have a guide…
Photo – Rand Lincks basic

First aid skills are handy to have and easy to obtain. There are courses everywhere. From the basic CPR course to the more advanced courses designed to teach wilderness and industrial first aid, all of them only require time a little money. While it may not be worth getting a paramedic certification, it’s certainly worth taking a two-day or even a two-week first aid course if you’re planning on spending most of your life enjoying all the incredible things the mountains have to offer us.

Why The Mountains Call Us... Photo - Dave Silver
Why the mountains call us…
Photo – Dave Silver

Yes, the courses cost money. Yes, they take time out of what are already busy lives for most of us. But that’s what May and October are for. It’s our responsibility, as outdoor enthusiasts, to take as many steps as possible to ensure that we stay safe. At the ski hill, the ski patrol is never far away. At the beach, quite often there are lifeguards. But out there in the mountains, there is only you and your partners. So do yourself a favour and take that CPR or Wilderness First Aid course. First aid isn’t rocket science and even knowing the absolute basics of patient care and maybe a few tips about wilderness first response will help you and your buddies when you need it most.

Be safe, ski hard.