What makes Forestry Aid different to conventional First Aid at Work is that it is about looking after the casualty for longer periods of time, getting help as quickly and effectively as possible and making sure we save lives it is not just another box to tick to make sure your compliant. Forestry first aid courses should be as much about awareness of the challenges of a worst-case scenario that may never happen but when it does we are better prepared than we ever where.
Almost all conventional first aid books, courses and emergency guidelines assume that people are working within the desired 8min ambulance response times. This is fine in the city and larger towns but as we know this is just not an achievable target for remote rural locations. The modern forestry environment is far removed from these response times with employees often working in remote areas with limited or no communication along with challenging access to the casualties meaning. This means at times conventional emergency services may take longer to respond or need assistance from Mountain Rescue Teams The Coast Guards and Helicopters.
Remote Casualty Evacuation Planning
One of the key factors of first aid should include some form of casualty evacuation planning. This is much more about making sure we get help to the casualty as quickly and effectively as possible. We can have the best equipment and first aid skills but if we are left on our own without help coming we are putting lives more at risk.
The Emergency Services have changed the way they prioritise call outs with life threatening conditions being dealt with first. This means that as people working in the forest industry we need to think more about how we communicate with the Emergency services once we have an incident. If we can provide detailed information of the incident injuries, location, conditions on the ground, and best access to the site we can get hopefully get help to casualties quicker.
Emergancy SMS text your information to 999 or 112
use OS locate to get your position and text direct from the app
Getting Help Fast
Communications in the modern forestry environment haven’t changed much over the years, yes we have smarter mobile phones now but how often are we in mobile phone black spots. A mobile phone signal that is working one day might not be the next day due to several factors including maintenance, weather, or the mast has been made obsolete.
View Ranger App give you Os mapping on your phone
Satellite technology has advanced more in recent years and the introduction of personal locator beacons is a fast-moving market. Spot Messenger and Find Fast devices have been adopted by many workers but they only have only way communication out with people on the ground unsure if the message arrived and if help is on its way. We could be left waiting without a real understanding of what help if any is coming our way and more importantly how long it will be. There are other devises out there on the market that give us two-way communication for not that much more in cost that fit the bill so much better. Inreach Explorer and Yellow Brick are just a couple of the devices that offer a much better level of two way communication meaning both the people on the ground and the emergency services are much better informed.
In reach explorer + gives you the ability to send your location with out a mobile phone signal
Giving the correct information on the location of the casualty
Inreach Explorer cost effective Satellite Communications
When communicating with the emergency services we need to give details of the conditions on the ground as much as about the casualty and the only way we can effectively do this is by using a grid reference. Postcodes equate to a building or venue and not an open space in the forest or a hillside. A grid reference gives us much more information about a location it helps the emergency services decide on the level of response and whether to deploy the conventional ambulance service or escalate it to Mountain Rescues Teams or helicopters. The ordnance survey has just released a great mobile phone app called OS Locate that will give us a grid reference without a mobile phone signal.
!:50000 mapping without a mobile phone signal
Changes in first aid practices
Emergancy Trauma dressing
The HSE has also recognised the requirement for specialist Forestry First Aid training and are now recommending that all Forestry First Aid courses include training on homeostatic clotting agents like Cellox, tourniquets and defibrillators. This is a major shift in first aid techniques but for remote first aid it is been normal for several years now. I often get asked about first aid equipment and what is required on a forestry site. My answer has always been that the first aid kit you have on you at the time is the best one.
First aid kits need to be specific to the job at hand so the ability to treat major trauma injuries is a key requirement. All too often we think that the standard off the shelf first aid kits are up to that job when they quite simply aren't. They are bulky so tend to get left behind in the vehicle or welfare unit. This is ok until you get trapped by a fallen tree or have broken your leg. The Emergency Trauma Dressing (Israeli bandage) and Cellox are something I highly recommend for Forestry First Aid. The trauma dressing is a one bandage fits all product, it has a large wound dressing able of soaking up large volumes of blood. It is made of an elasticated material so means you can apply more pressure to the wound and has a pressure pad and bar so can be made into an improvised tourniquet. Cellox and Quick Clot are homeostatic clotting agents used to help the blood clot more quickly. Granules are poured in to the wound then covered with the Emergency trauma dressing. The two products used correctly may negate the use of a tourniquet and save life in major trauma injuries. They can be carried in a pocket so are more effective than the larger kits that are left behind in vehicles. Something else I highly recommend in a first aid kit is the means to protect a casualty from hypothermia. The classic orange survival bag used by hill walkers is a good starting point it's waterproof and reduces wind chill so casualties can be temporary protected from the elements giving you time gather the appropriate equipment to reduce the possibility of hypothermia from a vehicle.
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