Basic first aid on the mountain

Whatever your ability, you are able to deliver some form of First Aid using the maxim “Do no Harm” which means that if you suspect a serious injury from a severe fall then do not move the casualty unless it is life threatening.

If you need the
Emergency Services call
999 or 112

The ABC of first aid can be followed by a DEF.

A. Is the casualty’s AIRWAY open? If not the 999 or 112 operators will instruct you on basic life support.

B. BREATHING, it is sometimes difficult to know if a casualty is actually breathing especially on a mountain environment when they may be cold or there may be a strong breeze. Look, feel and listen for breathing. If they are breathing then the airway is open, if they are not breathing then you need to contact 999 or 112 and follow the instructions of the operator with your phone on loudspeaker.

C. CIRCULATION, check for a pulse. In cold weather, a pulse from the wrist is often very weak so check for the neck pulse. If there is bleeding minimise the blood flow by elevating the limb and/or by applying direct pressure to the wound site with a clean absorbent material, this may take some time.

D. DAMAGE, is the casualty damaged due to head or spine injury? If this is suspected do not move the casualty. Note if they are alert and conscious and are they gaining or losing alertness.

E. EXPOSURE, prevent this by sheltering the patient from the wind and rain, wrap them in as many layers as possible, put something under them and insulate the head. Again, if a head, neck or spinal fracture is suspected, do not move the casualty, try to just cover them or shelter them.

F. FRACTURES, if a limb is broken immobilise it, this is done by padding the limb as much as possible. If it is an arm bandage it to the chest, if it is a leg bandage it to the other leg.

When the Rescue Team arrives be organised, one person should deal with the Team, the rest of the party should stand aside and leave the Team to work. Obey all instructions and assist if requested. This is often the time when another member of a party will wander off or become injured. Account for all of your party members to the Rescue Team.