The REC First Aid Courses were founded in the mid 1980s by Dr Robert Phillips while working in remote healthcare and adventure rescue services. They are recommended by various governing bodies such as MLTB, BCU, RYA in a large part due to their practical, pragmatic and scenario based delivery.Over the years I have completed a range of first aid courses and all but one have been delivered in the comfort of a meeting room or classroom in dry, warm and clean conditions.
Unfortunately, on some of these courses, the emphasis has seemed to be on neatness with beautifully boxed first aid kit in situations where a phone and other assistance is on hand and the majority of the sessions were driven by long, dry powerpoint presentations or long winded booklets.
The REC Level 2 course is very different. Our course was led by Nicole Hendrikson, an A&E nurse based in North Wales, with many years experience working abroad with Medicines Sans Frontiers with support from Level 5 Sea kayak coach Owen Burson. Their experience and enthusiasm shone through during the weekend and was incredibly engaging.The weekend was a combination of classroom based sessions with a significant number of outdoor, scenario based sessions which included both land and water based incidents.
The chalk and talk aspects of the course were kept to the minimum required and throughout the sessions there was huge opportunity for candidates to practice techniques repeatedly in a supportive rather than judgemental environment.
Candidates were encouraged to discuss and question all aspects of the course which is where the trainers experience came to the fore, being able to deal with a huge range of queries from the candidates.Once a set of practical skills had been taught and practiced in the dry, the course would move outside where it was placed into a scenario. This, for me, is the beauty of this course, the opportunity to practice dealing with the indicents in the environments and scenarios we, as paddlers, are actually likely to encounter them.
Take for example, immobilising a patients legs with a suspected break. Trying to do this with hands covered in mud, in the pouring rain with the patients legs stuck in amongst branches and brambles is a whole different ball game to using dry kit, in a classroom. Similarly working out the best way to hold together a raft of 3 sea kayaks while a paddler kneels up on the boats and delivers CPR to a casualty on the decks certainly focuses the mind!This type of first aid course attracts a certain candidate – usually someone with an interest in the outdoors, so I found myself surrounded by an interesting group of people happy to share a wide range of experiences whether course related or not.
After a couple of years of infrequent contact via email/social networks it was nice to finally meet Owen Burson and also Mark and Heather Rainsley (South West Sea Kayaking) as well as make some new acquaintances such as New Forest Kayak and Canoe Club Secretary Jackie Ward. I left the course, not only with my REC Level 2 First Aid Award (plus a HSE First Aid certificate) but also some new friends and future paddling plans. Whats more, I’ve signed up for IOWSK REC First Aid Advanced Course later in the year. I’d call that a great success.
Huge thanks go to Nicole and Owen for their time and efforts in providing an outstanding course. Highly, highly recommended.