1 – Emergency / Incident Procedures

Emergency / Incident Procedures

The 1st of an 8 part series on handling and preparing for problems.

There is no way to totally remove the risks of travel in remote areas, and things will go wrong from time to time, that’s part of the adventure. It’s how we personally respond to these incidents that makes the difference between an adventure and a misadventure.

This series is intended to instil all people on  trips how they could respond, and making sure we categorise emergencies correctly.

Emergencies differ from person to person. What may be regarded as an emergency to one person, may not to another. In addition, emergencies can be caused by a number of factors, but if we put some thought into them, we will discover that for a particular scenario to be truly regarded as an emergency, it needs to answer one specific question with ‘Yes’:

Will our / my situation continue to deteriorate so that significant loss will be caused unless action is taken right now?

Emergencies and ‘Incidents’ are not necessarily the same thing, but can be. An incident falls into the following definition:

Something unplanned for has occurred which has resulted in a loss, but the situation is now stable and even if we do nothing no further loss will occur even though there may still be actions we need to take to return the situation to normal.

Let’s look at a few comparisons between emergencies and incidents: (Try to think of why they are categorised as they are – explanations are given in the end notes.)

Plan 16

If we categorise incidents and emergencies properly, we can then apply the correct action to them. Treating an incident as an emergency unnecessarily can place you, the group and the rescuers in further danger.

How Does This Affect Me As A Group Member?

Simply put – think about how much you value your own life, well-being and possessions, and make a conscious decision to look after yourself. Your trip leaders or guides are trained to look after you, but they need your help. No matter how good the leader is, they cannot help 10 people running around in a blind panic. You have a responsibility to co-operate with the leaders instructions, take appropriate action to safeguard yourself, and act responsibly. Essentially look after yourself primarily which relieves some of the burden from the leaders so they can concentrate of the most important issues at hand.

In the next Blog we will look at ‘Preparing before your trip’

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[i] Not life threatening, can be treated and stay on trip.

[ii] Femur breaks are life threatening due to massive internal blood loss.

[iii] As it is a large party, they can share tents with others. Incident is stable and not getting worse.

[iv] As they are out alone in the dark near major hazards, they could be lost or have already fallen over a cliff. Until you know they are safe, of if looking puts the group in danger, this is an emergency.

[v] So they miss their flight, there will be others. Treating this as an emergency may cause other incidents due to trying to get home faster.

[vi] The diabetic could deteriorate or die unless they get insulin.

[vii] AMS is not life threatening so long as they do not continue to ascend.

[viii] HAPE is life threatening. Immediate action is required.

Andrew Friedemann

Author: Andrew Friedemann

Andrew holds qualifications in South Africa, Australia and the UK as an Outdoor Recreation Instructor and qualified Mountain Guide and Instructor. Passionate about developing the Adventure Industry in South Africa to make it safer and provide opportunities to a younger generation of adventurers. Represented South Africa on the World Mountaineering Federations (UIAA) International Training Standards Commission for 10 years and has administered the South African Mountaineering Development & Training Trust. A qualified Wilderness EMT and Emergency Care Practitioner. Qualified as an Skills Development Practitioner, he has been intimately involved in the development of Adventure based qualifications particularly with regard the quality management of adventure qualifications. Founder of Adventure Qualifications Network, he was instrumental in the development of National Vocational qualifications for the adventure industry in South Africa, but also worked closely with Australia where he attained the Cert IV in Outdoor Recreation Instruction. Currently resident in the Scottish Highlands - UK, with his wife, Michelle, they travel to many areas of the world gaining information and skills. A keen adventurer, Andrew has participated in mountaineering, skydiving and scuba diving among other activities.