Bumps, Burns & Bruises

First Aid, Extraction and Traffic control on Highway Accidents Scenes

Chris and I have both worked outside in the renewable resource industry for years.  We have been first on the scene to various motor vehicle accidents and seen our fair share of cuts, bumps, bruise, stings and burns. We have cringed as we watched a barefoot, sandal and short wearing 11-year-old wield an axe like a crazy person; narrowly miss his calf and foot numerous times trying to cut fire wood (unsupervised) from the next campsite. We have two boys who are always doing crazy stuff too and there are usually numerous accidents that occur everyday we are camping.  It got so bad that we went would tuck the boys in at night asking them not to hurt themselves for a few days and let their scraped elbows and knee heal for a bit before re-injuring themselves.

I would recommend that at least one person in your crew have first aid and CPR training.  The commitment to complete  an emergency first day course is usually one day.  This type of course usually covers CPR level A (adults only) and AED (automated external defibrillator).  For families, I recommend standard first aid with CPR level C (adults, kids, infants & two person CPR).  However the time commitment increases to two days.

The chance of being sued for giving first aid is possible, however, in Canada the principles of the Good Samaritan Act protects you if you choose to help someone in need voluntarily ( that is you are not being paid to provide help).  Once you begin to give assistance, you are obligated to use reasonable skill and care based on your level of training. The Good Samaritan principles include:

  1. You  identify yourself as a first aider and get consent to help
  2. You use reasonable skill and do not exceed your training
  3. You are not negligent in what you do
  4. You do not abandon the person

When we lived up North, there was spotty cell service, very harsh weather, and long wait times for emergency vehicles to usually arrive on scene so there was an unwritten rule to help out people in distress whether it be a car stuck in the snow, broken down vehicle or accident.  The theory behind this was that “if it happens to them, it can easily happen to you.”  The principle of helping people has not left us.  Unfortunately, we have been the first car on many accidents scenes. The good thing is that we are usually not the only people to stop.  It seems that as Canadians we still haven’t lost our sensitivity to help a people in need.

The picture above was taken after the downslope road going into a turn near the beginning of the Coquihalla highway heading east just past Hope, British Columbia.  The truck was pulling a small trailer and was going to fast for the slope and the upcoming corner.  He tried to slow down as his trailer started to swerve.  I backed off as I knew he was going to lose and there was going to be an accident.  Sure enough the trailer swerved and swerved then cartwheeled sending the both truck and trailer down the road.  I slow down and C jumps out to get people out.  There were not hurt bad, but the driver was pinned for a minute or two until C was able to lift up dash and steering wheel.  I called 911, told the kidlets to stay put and not get out of vehicle and ran to do traffic control because there was a semi that rear-ended a car at the same time as the trailer went out of control so both lanes were utter chaos and with a blind corner, high speeds, spelled other accidents unless I stepped up to keep the gwakers at bay. All in all, there were three accidents on that highway all within minutes of each other.  It was crazy for first responders and for travellers too!

You just never know when you may need to recognize a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or  administer first aid due to a twisted ankle when hiking.  I think having this training is one of the most powerful tools in any one’s skill set. Before setting on next year’s vacations, camping or hiking trips, please consider first aid training.  You just never know when you may need it!

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