3 – Looking after myself on a trip

Looking after myself on a trip

The 3rd of an 8 part series on handling and preparing for problems.

Again we reinforce the concept of not blindly just heading off into the unknown, but taking some personal proactive steps to make sure you are prepared if anything does not go according to plan.

First of all do not be afraid to look after yourself and ask questions. Many people on trips think they will upset the leaders or guides if they interfere, but the opposite is true. In fact as one trekking operator in Peru told me about preparing people for trips, “ – always good to have a well-informed and prepared customer.

  • On arrival at the start of the trip
    • Verify emergency information with the trip leaders
    • Complete applicable rescue registers or intentions forms if they are available and you are asked to do so by the leaders. If you notice they are available but the leaders have not filled them in, ask why?
    • Check escape routes with your leader and mark them on your own map
  • Carry your emergency, first aid and personal medication kit with you. Do not send it with porters if you are using them. It does not help if your emergency kit is five kilometres ahead of you
  • Keep personal documents with you at all times
  • Monitor your own map during the day so you always know where you are on it. If things go wrong you want to already know where you are.
  • Keep an eye on group members for signs of trouble and tell the leaders if you suspect a problem
  • Each day, spend a few minutes thinking about potential issues that could arise that day and what your response could be
  • Act promptly and decisively in the event of an emergency
  • Remember to look at the view from where you have come from every now again. If you have to retreat on your own, the path always looks different going the other direction – get used to what it looks like.
  • If you are unsure or unhappy about anything, speak to your trip leaders or guides. They are used to being asked all sorts of questions and expect it. That red spot on your leg may be something more serious than just a mosquito bite. If you suspect you are getting a blister, ask the leaders to stop for a while whilst you dress it. The five minutes it takes now, may save hours or days later on if it gets worse and infected.
  • Don’t be afraid to call for rescue if the leaders are incapacitated
  • Sign out rescue registers before leaving at the end of the trip

As a final point on this topic – remember that all experienced trip leaders or guides have ‘heard it all’, they will not be embarrassed with your personal problems, as they have probably had the same issue before. Perhaps you have developed stinking foot rot, or your period has come early and you do not have sanitary towels, or you have picked up an STD, or you have run out of hearing aid batteries. Tell them, the safety of the whole group is at stake if you are not performing at your best.

Specifically 2

In the next Blog we will look at ‘Action plans – What do I do?’

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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.