5 – Calling for Help

Plan 11

Calling for Help

The 5th of an 8 part weekly series on handling and preparing for problems.

There will be times when whatever has happened is beyond the ability of the group to deal with alone and outside help is needed.

This decision will be made by the group leaders or guides, but in the event they are the ones involved and cannot make this decision, it is good for group members to know what to do.

Firstly the priorities must be dealt with these are what we discussed in the previous section. Once we have dealt with our priorities and have determined we need to call outside help, we will use the plan we have made to do so. When sending for help there is always going to be some vital information the rescuers will need in order to make their own action plan. As a minimum you should be prepared to tell them:

  • What is your phone number if you are calling by phone
  • What has happened
  • Where has it happened (Where are you)
  • When did it happen
  • Who is in charge
  • Who is injured
  • What first aid is available, been applied and qualifications of the first aiders
  • How many are there in the party, ages and experience
  • What is the terrain like where you are?
  • What is the current and anticipated weather like?
  • Is there a clearing for helicopters to land?
  • How prepared are you to “Dig In” (Keep safe where you are)
  • What is the groups plan?

When sending for help, inform the rescuers if it’s your trip leader who’s been injured. This might impact things quite severely. Also inform them of the state of the remainder of the group.

How you get this message out will depend on the situation, so again think about what options you have for communications even if you are not the group leader. Remember do not try to call for help unless your trip leaders / guides have given the go ahead or are incapacitated and cannot make that decision.

What options do you have for calling for help?

These will depend again on what plans were put in place beforehand and where you are, but they could include:

  • Cell / Telephones
  • Shouting / Whistles
  • Sending a written message – Always write it as verbal gets mixed up
  • Two way Radios
  • Smoke signals… In conservation areas it will usually get a response
  • Flares – hand or rocket
  • Visibility
  • Satellite phones
  • Don’t forget having someone at home who will call if you are delayed.

While You Are Waiting For HelpPlan 12

We come back to the panic question – people with nothing to do in a stressful situation will tend to panic, so keep yourselves busy. It could take a long time for a rescue team to get to you, so you need to prepare to wait it out.

  • Know where everyone is: pair people up in buddy pairs
  • Get water, make a meal & eat
  • Keep spirits up, be positive, reassure, and make sure everyone has something to do.
  • Make yourselves big, easy to find.
  • Continuously monitor your patient. Continuously monitor everyone else in the group
  • Think about what important kit the person being evacuated is carrying that might be necessary for the rest of you (like half of the tent or the car keys to get home). Is the person being evacuated leaving a child behind?

Plan 5

In the next Blog we will look at ‘Self Rescues‘…

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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.