Protect injured parties from the cold
In a winter environment, dealing with injuries can quickly feel extremely stressful. It is not enough that you or your friend might be in pain, but you are also far away from public roads and qualified medical help while at the same time exposed to the cold and wind. First aid is the same in all emergency situations, but you also have to avoid exposing the injured person to consequential risks, particularly hypothermia.
First aid focuses on saving the life of someone who is facing a life-threatening situation, but it also encompasses taking care of more minor injuries or illnesses so they do not get worse. Today, medical professionals, in particular paramedics, use the acronym ABCDE to describe the steps taken in emergency situations:
A = Airway management and cervical spine stabilisation – to open the airways and stabilise the neck and back.
B = Breathing – to monitor breathing, and if the injured person is not breathing, administer mouth-to-mouth.
C = Circulation and bleeding – to monitor the pulse/blood pressure and stop any bleeding.
D = Disability – to monitor consciousness and the ability to move.
E = Expose/Environment – to protect the injured person from exposure to the environment and conduct a more thorough examination of his/her body.
Under normal circumstances, steps A, B and C are the most important to know - being able to administer mouth-to-mouth, stop bleeding and prevent circulation obstructions. At the same time, the last step – protecting the injured person – gains extra relevance when we are in winter conditions.
Find shelter and protection from the cold
To avoid hypothermia, you have to protect the injured person from the cold ground and the wind. Place him/her on a ground pad and cover him/her with extra clothing or a sleeping bag. If the person is conscious, give him/her a warm drink. Remember that heavy bleeding decreases the circulation of blood within the body and therefore can contribute to the onset of hypothermia – which is just one more reason why it is so important to know how to wrap a wound.
Knowledge facilitates preparedness
Practicing how to administer first aid increases the chances of doing it right in an emergency situation and decreases the uncertainty and fear of making a mistake. Several organisations arrange courses, including the Red Cross. There are also first aid courses that are specifically tailored to outdoor conditions. Find a course in your area and sign up - you will find the information useful in many situations.