Hiking Club Guides Receive First Aid Training

Hiking Club guides rehearse first aid practices. (Photo by Walt Shields)

Walt Shields

In January, 20 SaddleBrooke Hiking Club guides participated in an all-day training program covering recognition and management of common injuries and medical conditions that our hikers face in the Tucson environment.

The course consisted of a morning session, consisting of a PowerPoint presentation, followed by a guest speaker from a local search and rescue organization. These people informed us of their procedures in the event we should need their help. The lectures were followed by breakout sessions to review actual emergencies that have occurred with Hiking Club members over the past few years, though strict confidentiality was observed, and names were never disclosed. Guides reviewed leadership and decision making and benefited from group discussion of the actual management of those emergencies.

On a second day, guides participated in an “accident and incident” hike. Each guide took a turn being the lead guide, while others simulated injuries and medical conditions. These “events” occurred in a real trail setting using first aid supplies, which guides carry in their packs.

The Hiking Club guides participate in these periodic courses voluntarily out of concern for the safety of their hikers and themselves and to provide an excellent hiking experience. They receive no official certification and are not trained medical responders, yet they gain skills in providing assistance within the limits of their training in the event of an accident or injury.

Ultimately, every SaddleBrooke Hiking Club hiker assumes full responsibility for risk of injury or accidents on a hike, as is stated in the release form we all sign. It is important that hikers let their guide know if they have any medical issues, such as heart conditions or allergies, if they are carrying any medications essential to treating those conditions, and to update, as needed, the personal information form that we all carry in our nametags.

It is the responsibility of each club hiker to choose hikes within their ability level so that it can be a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Guides are always willing to assist hikers in choosing an appropriate hike.