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The main concept of our idea for caving First Aid for 2007 revolves around the idea of a two-tier deployment. The club will maintain six small first-aid kits for the leaders to carry in their SRT sacs, and a bright yellow Tacklesac (with two 6.4L Daren drums inside) will be kept in the minibus for use as 'second aid'.
Therefore: the leader kits are to:
- Treat minor incidences, and patch-up the casualty to enable a self-rescue
- Stabilise the casualty, most particularly from hypothermia, while awaiting a stronger rescue
The van-kit is to:
- Treat intermediate-level events fully, provide self-rescue capabilities for a sufficiently strong group
- Stabilise the casualty after a serious incidence, and prepare the way for Cave Rescue Organisations
Typical use envisaged is something like this:
Minor injury: Caver Jamal trips and cuts hand on a sharp rock. There is an open wound which has filled with mud after the fall.
- Treatment: Leader checks for other injuries, irrigates the wound with sterile saline and closes with steri-strips. Ibuprofan or paracetamol can be taken for pain.
Minor self rescue: Caver Josephine abseils too fast, lands on forearm & displays an open wound and possible fracture. Fully conscious and capable.
- Treatment: Leader-kit provides zinc-oxide tape, triangular bandage, safety pins to secure and Ibuprofan as anti-inflammatory. Escorted out cave.
Intermediate Self-Rescue: Caver Bruno slips and falls a short distance, landing awkwardly. Foot is extremely painful and will not take weight.
- Treatment: Bruno is assisted to somewhere nearby, safe from flooding + relatively warm. Foot is left in welly. Camp is made with candles / lighters, survival bags in helmets and space-blankets in rescue kits. Most experienced member of party exits cave and retrieves Rescue tackle sac, leaving note for other cavers in minibus. Leader / another leader returns to casualty and uses Sam-Splints to immobilize ankle. Bruno is assisted on SRT exit, such as by top-roping from pitch-hang bolt with spare rope + pulley-jammer.
Major Incident: Caver Marjorie slips and falls a considerable distance. Presents an open fracture on leg and painful hip.
- Treatment: Casualty moved shortest distance to safe place and otherwise as above. Leader exits and calls Cave Rescue, allowing himself to be coordinated by the CRO leader, but most probably returning to the cave with the rescue kit. The Blizzard survival bag is used to make a more effective camp; ancillary issues are dealt with and preparations made for stretchering-out.
The leader-kits DO NOT contain: Food, backup lighting, clothing, knives or whistles. These should all be separately carried by cavers on trips.
Contents of the seven Leader Packs (400ml beakers)
The club has eight small first aid kits, in sealed waterproof beakers. Each kit is meant to provide minimal material for first aid underground. The kits are by necessity quite compact, and are not a replacement for the full first aid kit in the rescue bag.
Each team should have at least one (preferably two) first aid kits.
Each kit contains:
- 1 triangular bandage in a sealed bag
- 1 roll of vetrap/vet wrap
- 5 safety pins
- One sterile dressing
- 2 paracetamol
- 2 ibuprofen
- 1 sterile saline solution
- 5 steri-strips
Spares of these are kept in the Spare First Aid drawer in stores, or in a white cardboard box on the shelves in expo stores. Vetrap is a brand of vet wrap made by 3M - it is the best version, but it is easy to be mis-sold it on Amazon or ebay by sellers who sell three metres (3m, geddit?) of vet wrap!
The purpose of each item is as follows (the list is not exhaustive!):
- One triangular bandage: sling, splinting, eyepatch, tourniquet (careful!)
- One roll of vetrap/vet wrap: self adhesive (doesn't stick to skin or anything else, just itself), so good for holding dressing in place
- 3 safety pins: sling, holding tongue, removing splinters
- One sterile dressing: covering a wound that has stopped bleeding and has been rinsed, part of an eye patch
- 2 paracetamol: general pain relief (analgesic). Probably most useful for headaches
- 2 ibuprofen: pain relief and also actively reduces swelling. Absolute go to for bumps, bruises, sprains etc.
- 1 sterile saline pod. Pierce with a knife to make a small hole. Squeeze tightly and direct the stream of high pressure water into the wound. This will remove debris.
- 5 steri-strips. Can br used to close a wound after it has been cleaned with sterile saline solution.
Note: There is a belief in the first aid community in the UK that you should not give or offer someone drugs such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, but instead allow the patient to take them. This statement is included for completeness.
Almost everyone who gets injured in a cave also gets cold, and the people with them will also get cold. Every helmet should contain a survivial bag, a thin polythene bag large enough for one person, bought from Caving Supplies. Cut off one corner, take off your helmet, climb inside the bag, replace the helmet over the bag to secure it, and feel the toasty warmth envelop you.
First Aid Training
The College often offers first aid training from Marlin First Aid. It is aimed at students going on field trips, but there are often spare oplaces advertised on the RCC mailing list. It may be possible to get funding from the Activities Development Fund to allow people to take the course. Even without funding, it is an excellent skill to have, and highly recommended.
Rescue Tackle Sac
First-Aid Daren Drum
- Based around mountain-leader / expo UG-camp first-aid kit
- exciting drugs
Rescue / Anti-hypothermia / Food / Sam Splint
- Blizzard three-layer survival bag (equiv. to a 2/3 season sleeping bag; people have slept in Daren in them)
- Jammer-pulleys on oval krabs
- Chocolate bars
- Sam Splints sufficient to immobilize a foot / arm
Fundamentally we can't put too much stuff in here: it needs to be light enough to be EASILY taken down to the casualty by a potentially TIRED leader.
Jarv, August 2007 Jack, November 2016