Having attended a superb REC Emergency First Aid Course run by Owen Burson (Isle of Wight Sea Kayaking) and Nicole Hendriksen (Get A Fix) back in February, I signed up immediately for the REC Advanced First Aid Course they were offering.

Our base for the two days was Owen’s Freshwater Bay HQ where we made use of the Sandpipers Hotel facilities as well as easy access to the cliff bases, beach and sea within Freshwater Bay for scenarios.

The REC advanced course is designed to be a follow on course from the REC Emergency (Level 2) course and for me dovetailed neatly together. Over the course of the two days we revisited all the key content from the Emergency course first refreshing our knowledge then extending each topic with more detailed information and more advanced skills along with introducing more technical equipment used to deal with the range of first aid situations.

The emphasis on this course was firmly on dealing with incidents over a more sustained period of time and went beyond the initial assessment and treatment of a casualty into the close monitoring and recording of vital information in situations where assistance was likely to take a long period of time to arrive. For me this was key as in reality many of the sea kayaking trips I undertake place me and any group members in locations where without good VHF or Phone signal the chances of medical assistance arriving within less than an hour is slim and potentially could be far longer due to geographical barriers.

Once again, Nicole Hendriksen, an A&E nurse with several years experience in war torn countries through Medicenes Sans Frontiers, led the course providing both expert knowledge and a confident, engaging delivery of the detailed medical aspects. Owen provided the ‘Outdoor Activities’ and Sea Kayaking context through the use of scenarios and his experience dealing with incidents in the outdoor environment. As a team they work superbly well and their different experiences compliment each other absolutely perfectly for this type of course.

Similarly, the trainers refreshingly pragmatic approach to dealing with incidents shone through again. Whilst we looked at a wide range of more technical equipment, both Nicole and Owen were excellent at highlighting which pieces of kit were actually relevant and workable in the potentially destructive saltwater and beach environment we work and play in. Time was devoted to looking at which items could fulfil multi-purpose usage further validating their inclusion in a first aid or kayakers kit. For example, spare air bags carried in case of a leak or loss of hatch cover make excellent splints rather than carrying a dedicated splint in your first aid kit.

That said, in situations where prolonged casualty management may be required, learning how to use more dedicated equipment such as a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff or airway adjuncts was both interesting and potentially life saving.

As previously mentioned, this course focused as much on the monitoring and care provided after initial first aid treatment has been issued and dealing with issues that might occur as secondary problems whilst waiting for the emergency services to arrive. Key to this was detailed study of the vital signs and how to effectively monitor and record these in order to provide the best possible hand over when help arrives. We looked at several forms of recording the vital signs and I am sure all involved in the course will be spending time designing laminated ‘CasCards’ (Casualty Cards) to carry in their first aid kit.

In a similar vein, we looked at some of the techniques and equipment the emergency services would arrive with and practiced using them with a view to being able to assist once help has arrived.

This was an awesome course and did two key things for me:

  1. Reinforced my prior knowledge from the 2 Day REC Emergency Coure
  2. Increased (stretched) my confidence and knowledge for potential situations where longer term casualty management would be required

For those leading groups in the outdoors I cannot fault the REC scheme and although there is an obvious expense involved in undertaking a second First Aid course, having been through the process, I really see the benefit of the additional practice and content that is provided within the REC Advanced course. It provides an extra layer of skills, understanding and awareness that is not limited to usefulness on big expeditions in the wilderness but in the more common, every day trips sea kayakers undertake where we place ourselves in more remote locations that could lead to longer response times from the emergency services.

Course Content:

Day 1

  • Revision of DRsABCDE
  • Learning and assessment by triad guided scenarios.
  • CPR using bag-valve-mask and AED
  • Vital Signs including blood pressure monitoring, pulse oximetry, auscultation etc.
  • Airway management, airway adjuncts.
  • Practice Scenarios
  • Awareness of oxygen and entonox usage

Day 2

  • Recap Day 1
  • Shock
  • Chest Injuries
  • In-depth head to toe examination
  • Scenarios and debrief on the pros and cons of equipment
  • Immobilisation fractures using equipment and improvisation.
  • Spinal Injuries and intro to hard collars, spinal boards and stretchers
  • Practice Scenarios

Useful Links

Isle Of Wight Sea Kayaking – The IOW Sea kayaking Website (Owen Burson)
Get A Fix – The Get A Fix website (Nicole Hendriksen)
REC First Aid – The REC First Aid Website

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