February 3, 2017

Friday Funny 02/03 (Why First Aid)

Bad news.

This cartoon was true. Bill has been a certified EMT, and I avoided all things medical whenever I could.

Several years ago on a kayaking trip out of Whittier, Alaska, we were camping at Surprise Cove Marine Park. This is a state park only accessible by water, a beautiful area with tent platforms, an outhouse, boardwalk, and secure bear lockers for your gear. It was the end of May, and it had been a cold spring, so there were still some mounds of snow and ice. The boardwalk had been in the sun and the ice had thawed to liquid, and then in the evening had re-frozen. You can probably guessed what happened next, I had just put our things away in the bear locker for the night, and I slipped on the ice. I put out my arm/hand to stop my fall, (I know, bad, bad, bad), and landed on my hand with my wrist bent to absorb the shock. I knew right away that I had broken it. In case you want to know what the signs are: swelling, pain, and nausea. I grabbed a handful of snow, and pressed my arm to my chest. Bill got out his medical kit, and since I wouldn't let him touch it to splint it, he secured it to my chest with ace bandages.

Trango tent set up on the platform, this keeps it off of the fragile tundra.

Kayaks on the beach, my daughter Alexa's, Bill's, and mine.

It was 9:00pm, and 

  1.  I wasn't going to be paddling my kayak anytime soon, and Bill wasn't going to tow me back 20 miles. There were small craft warnings in effect, 40kt winds on our nose, and 4-6ft seas.
  2. Calling a Whittier Charter company after hours, big money, if they could even come. (P.S. this is the first trip we had a SAT phone, we're never without it now, worth every penny!)
  3. You can only get in and out of Whittier by a using a tunnel through the mountain, and it closes at 11:00pm.
  4. If we did get back to Whittier that night, we would have to spend the night in the cab of the truck, (see reason 3), we didn't have our truck camper yet.

So we made ourselves comfortable in the tent, (using the term comfortable, loosely). I took several of the only meds we had, (Tylenol 3- not strong enough) and ratcheted my chair-thermarest into a semi-reclining position to try and get some rest. Synopsis; We called the charter company the next morning, they came and got us, we made it to the doctor that day, (Wednesday), and I was in surgery by Monday to reconstruct my wrist with titanium, and screws. Oh so many lessons learned!

Mainly, sh*t happens, and what if it happened to Bill? Poor guy, I knew I needed to suck it up, and get some training.

Unfortunately, you can't count on this,

I'm the sort of person that when confronted with one's own injury, I will faint. If it's your injury, I'm usually okay, and if it's an emergency, I can do whatever is needed. So, though I can't count on me, you can count on me.

While we were still in Fairbanks, and I was an employee of the University, (free tuition perk), I signed up for the Basic EMT training class. I thought it would be a horrible ordeal, but I found out I loved it, and the instructors were terrific. (Thanks Barbara!) It was a hard class for me, since I had avoided all things medical previously, I (unlike all the other students), had no knowledge of physiology, or anatomy. The tests were four hours long, and I always used every minute of it to finish. I passed my state written exam, and then I decided not to take the hands on practical.  You have to memorize exact medical and legal verbiage, and I have no intentions of ever riding/working in an ambulance with credentials. 

This was us in class, practicing on each other three times a week.

I was studying on an airline once, until I realized that the photos in my textbook probably weren't appropriate for others in my row.  (Sorry, closing book now.)

We bought an Adventure Series, Marine 3000 medical kit for Denali Rose. It's pretty extensive, and we even added some more items to it. I know others may think it is overkill, but we feel confident, and competent with it.

No, not that..... this.

Adventure Medical kits are available on Amazon

We had been looking into attending an Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course by NOLS, (National Outdoors Leadership School), but we couldn't find one that was close to home. Until now. The Facebook Wrangell Community Board posted a notice about this course being given in Wrangell in February. We signed up immediately. To give you an idea of what an incredible opportunity this is for us, the other places that this course is being taught are: Singapore Singapore, Quito Ecuador, Raniket India, Banos Ecuador, Serena Chile, and Sartell MN. 

Scenarios, and practice sessions will take place both inside and outside. Wouldn't it be great if the weather cooperated, and it was dry, warm and sunny? A gal can dream......

Sunrise today: 7:44am, Sunset today: 4:21pm
Update: 24-Feb-2017  Here is the post about the NOLS WAFA training mentioned above...

Well done.

What first aid knowledge do you have? Have you ever used it? What's in your medical kit? Leave us a comment here, or on Facebook. [Denali Rose Sailboat  or search @SV.DenaliRose] Thanks!

Update: 15-Mar-2017 Follow-up post: First Aid Training, Knowledge, and Supplies


  1. We are so delinquent. She has basic First Aid from years ago but the last time I got any training was Boy Scouts. It has been on our to do list for at least three seasons. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

    We did build a pretty good first aid kit out of several camping ones and picked up a prescription for general antibiotics from our doctor but I was surprised how hard it was to find simple things like sterile scalpels or forceps. I will definitely take a look at Adventure Medical Kits site.

    1. Aren't we all delinquent, Bruce?

      It is tough to make the time for these extended courses... and refreshers...

      But like fire extinguishers, you may only need the tools and knowledge once to impact the outcome of an emergency situation...

      That is how we have driven ourselves to make the time.

      May none of us never have to call upon that knowledge in anger...

      Cheers! Bill

    2. Depending on how in-depth you want your training to be, it can be hard to find the course that suits your needs. It's turning out that we have been in the right place at the right time. Good luck!

  2. I love the zombie attack kit :-) Good on you for getting trained up as well.

    1. Donna is very thorough...

    2. Everyone knows zombies can't swim, so we didn't need to spend the money on that one! :-)

  3. A great and timely post. Your comments about having a sat phone coincide with the crew of Galapagos is on the verge of ordering an Iridium Go. But having a device that you can carry with you and use easily away from the boat is an asset.

    Melissa recently completed the First Aid at Sea course and found it to be excellent. I have had training off and on but nothing comprehensive for decades. Yet another item to put on the list.

    1. Hi Mike,

      I think an IridiumGO! with an unlimited data plan is an excellent price-point. And it will be for us once we venture outside of Alaska and Canadian waters beyond the reach of our current per-minute discounted plan.

      Add UUplus email services [another ~$1/day] and you have a very powerful combination. [The Iridium apps are still very clunky...] In case you didn't already know, the GO! SIM card works in the Iridium 9555 and 9575 handsets. So in an emergency, or for excursions off the boat, you could slap the GO! card into a handset and take it with you... [It burns GO! voice minutes for voice and data in a handset...] If you are interested in more detail on my Sat Comms page on our blog: http://svdenalirosenc43.blogspot.com/p/satellite-communications.html

      [BTW- I write those pages mostly for me, trying to keep myself honest- and as a memory aid- regarding what I think I have learned...]

      Cheers! Bill

    2. We would love to attend one of those 1st Aid at Sea courses. That, and one of Mario Vittone's Survival at Sea programs...

  4. I am envious that you both have EMT training. I'm amazed at how alike we are in some of the things we avoid - like medical stuff. There is a real reason why I'm not a 'medical' professional and it's that I don't like it. Period. I get all over queasy, mostly because I've too much personal experience with loved ones in emergency rooms. But when the chips are down I can be cool and calm and think clearly. So I'm hopeful that will help. I've been busy putting together extensive medical kits on board Galapagos and have used those Adventure Medical Kits as a guide to what to purchase. If anyone ever bleeds on Galapagos, I've got them covered! More money to spend on things you hope to never need, right?

    1. RE: More money to spend on things you hope to never need, right?

      So true, Melissa.

      Not unlike fire extinguishers: They are single use, single purpose, and only work for a few seconds each... But...

      May none of us ever need to use any of these items...

      Cheers! Bill

    2. Like you, I knew early in my life that a career in the medical profession was not for me. I had to make the effort to put away the queasiness in class, and learn something. It was hard to take the car crash, bullet wound, and puncture pictures in the presentations. What was funny were the young men who didn't want to participate in the birthing practice. :-) One evening our instructor brought in placentas that she had acquired from the hospital, and we all got to "cut the cord" on the new (plastic) baby. They were the squeamish ones then!

  5. To our boating friends:

    We understand how difficult it is to make the time for 1st aid training.

    When we were working, to attend this upcoming NOLS Advanced 1st Aid course would have required us to take a week off [not including possible commute time...] But what an opportunity.

    How intense it is? It provides 32 hours of continuing education credits to licenses Paramedics...

    We have been trying to get into one of these courses for several years, and find it ironic that is is offered on this remote island in SE Alaska this year...

    So, if any of you want to take advantage of it [13-17 Feb, 2017] you are welcome to a private cabin [and head] in our floating B&B&B... [B&B & Beer... or wine...]


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