Just a quick note to thank Joe, Mark, and all at Stalking in England for the excellent First Aid for Stalkers course that they laid on this last weekend. Thanks as well to all the other attendees for making it such a useful and enjoyable weekend.
Without wishing to reprise the whole recent thread on Stalkers first aid, suffice to say that I think we'd all agree that anyone heading out into the wilds - even the wilds of Oxfordshire - should have at least a rudimentary knowledge of first aid that they can administer both to themselves and to their stalking colleagues.
I have always viewed first aid training as a bit like insurance - I hope to God I never need it but it's nice knowing that you've got it. For both work and personal reasons I've previously completed the regular "Emergency First Aid At Work" training with the Red Cross and St John's Ambulance, but I've also been aware that the EFAW training only goes so far. In almost 20 years of stalking and game shooting I've been fortunate never to have encountered anything more serious myself than some knife cuts, strains and bruising, but I have seen two members of the shoot have heart trouble requiring hospital treatment and one beater get comprehensively trampled by cows, resulting in full blues and twos through the Oxfordshire countryside!
But when you're guiding clients, some of (shall we say) advanced years, you realise that becoming a bit more familiar with current first aid procedures is no bad thing. Add on to that some stalking in pretty remote areas and taking a stalking-related first aid course becomes a lot more compelling.
The curriculum of the course that Joe delivers covers both QCF Level 2 (England, Wales & Ireland) as well as SQCF Level 5 (Scotland). So basically you come away with a recognised qualification that will actually mean something at work. Personally I viewed that as a "nice to have", rather than the reason for attending, as I was more interested in the stalking-specific aspects of the course. For some, however, that qualification could itself mean gaining a lease that otherwise would have been unavailable.
Joe's experience on the practical side of things as it relates to the injuries we are likely to see or encounter out stalking and shooting is, I think, one of the real plus points of the course. As well as the "been there, done that" experience covering both civilian and military environments, Joe's tuition provided practical, pragmatic and engaging examples of how this could be applied to our stalking and shooting activities. As a simple example, on the Sunday we were tasked with considering how you'd deliver CPR to someone in a high seat and how you could get them down without causing further injury to either the patient or the first aid practitioner. I realise that, for some, knowing what to do when someone has a heart attack isn't quite as "glamorous" as a sucking chest wound or arterial bleeding, but the reality is that we are far more likely to encounter the former than the latter! That said, we comprehensively covered the more photogenic side of things as well
When it comes to your stalking first aid kit, Moray Outfitting made the very valid point in a recent thread that you should understand for each item:
1. What it's for
2. Do I know how to use it
3. Do I know when to use it
4. Do I know the pro's and cons
5. Do I know why I'm carrying it
6. Am I prepared to take responsibility for my choice.
I'd certainly feel comfortable answering "yes" to each of those questions now.....and that's exactly what I was looking for.
As this was the first time the course had been run, Joe ran a critique session during the last 45 minutes. I wish every course took the opportunity to do this, as the feedback from both tutor and attendees can prove invaluable in helping the course itself to evolve. With different attendees with different levels of experience it is always going to be difficult to find the "happy medium", but we all agreed that we had gained useful knowledge and insight from the course.
The hospitality and craic of the Stalking in England team goes without saying - we must have made at least a small dent in the boar pate
All in all, a big thumbs-up for the course and thanks again to all involved.