WALKING FOR HEALTH AND FIRST AID
Together the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support run Walking for Health, the largest network of health walk schemes in England. By providing a national programme of short, free and friendly walks our schemes are helping people across the country lead a more active lifestyle. Over 3,000 weekly walks are led by our 10,000 or so, friendly, specially trained volunteers helping more than 70,000 regular walkers experience all the benefits of getting and staying active. We have completed the renewed accreditation process, ensuring schemes continue to provide a high quality experience for walkers and volunteers. We have featured in all major UK national newspapers, on the radio and in industry and government reports, continuing to raise the profile of walking across the country and launched our healthcare professional engagement plan, working with doctors and nurses to develop links between them and schemes.
Together this year we will deliver a new and easier to use database for schemes, helping them to better track their progress and prove their impact; continue to work with our cascade trainers to train friendly and dedicated walk leaders passionate about helping others enjoy the benefits of walking and work to further relationships between Walking for Health schemes and Ramblers areas and groups.
Members leading these and other walks are encouraged to have some First Aid training although it is not a requisite. We are to arrange courses to provide walk leaders with some basic training. St. Johns organised the last one at £30 and the courses were three hours long. Future sessions will depend on the levels of take up but Area is budgeting to cover 50% of the costs and we are exploring other providers to try and bring the costs down. Groups will receive details and arrangements for any future sessions. If interested talk to your group and we will judge levels of interest. The last one was very well received.
We have some tips for people leading walks.
Do take a first aid kit!
Do be aware of basic ways of offering assistance!
Don't panic and do not try anything that you do not understand!
There is some background you should be aware of and there are many myths which can be ignored and indeed in some cases must be ignored.
First there is a common law responsibility for everybody to offer such assistance as they can to anybody in distress. You do not need to have first aid training and much of the nonsense put at the door of health and safety is just that. More often than not the underlying message is a fear of litigation and the dictates of insurance companies who understandably never want to pay out on anything. Regardless of the scare stories in the press if you do your best and are not negligent you will not be prosecuted and if any ungrateful soul chooses to sue they are unlikely to be successful. You should be aware that there are no rules. There is guidance and suggestions of good practice but at the end of the day, just apply common sense.
Basically as a leader of a walk, you are well advised to carry a basic first aid kit with you or ensure that somebody in the group has one.
This might include as a minimum a selection of plasters, bandages and dressings and a few safety pins. The best solution is to buy a commercial first aid kit but unfortunately they are not all as good as they should be and do not differentiate between the circumstances and environments and like types of problems. For our sort of activities a triangular bandage could be useful as could an eye pad and cleansing wipes are quite important. Sterile water for cleaning wounds may well help as well. Disposable gloves are useful and in bad weather and high level situations a space blanket could save a life. Scissors or a good knife can also make things easier.
The most likely situations we might meet are cuts and sprains, and the trauma caused by falls. In the case of a fracture, apart from making the casualty safe from further slippage, do not move the injured party and call for assistance. 999 will get you ambulance, coast guard or fell rescue but if you are not sure exactly where you are dial 112. Whichever network picks it up will patch you through to a required emergency service and the receiving station will know exactly where you are. This is apparently the European Emergency Number and works anywhere in Europe. Whilst awaiting help make to injured person as comfortable as you can and keep them warm.
It seems universal advice that you should not use medicines or painkillers etc.
Bleeding is one of the more daunting prospects but there are some simple things to remember. Keep the wound high; blood will circulate to that area more slowly. Do apply some clean compression but other than perhaps for a very short period whilst you get organized, do not use a tourniquet.
Apart from such injuries, the other things we might experience are choking, a stroke or a heart attack. In the worst case scenario when you are not sure whether somebody is conscious, do not shake them. This could add to the problem. Try flicking their ears and see if you get a reaction; put your hand on their chest and see if you can feel any movement and in front of their mouth to feel for any breath coming out. If they do not appear to be breathing tilt their head back, try and ensure they have not swallowed their tongue and if there are no physical injuries turn them onto their side. If they are choking lean them forward and support them and then give 5 firm blows with the heel of your hand between the shoulders blade. If this does not work there are other techniques to try but we cannot give enough information here to enable you to comfortably carry them out. Chest compressions and mouth to mouth are helpful techniques but not much use unless you know what you are doing.
There are copious books on this subject and we cannot start to cover all issues here but this is a brief précis of what we recall from our three hour training recently received.