8 – In case of a death

In Case of Death

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

No training on emergency procedures would be complete without dealing with deaths on a trip. The death of a group member is everyone’s worse nightmare but it does happen, even if the death was caused by natural causes. i.e. Heart attack.

  1. Treat as though alive until determined to be dead by a medical practitioner. The only real exception is when the trauma is so great it cannot be anything else, such as a decapitation.
  2. Do not move bodies except to protect them from further harm, but protect from scavengers that may arrive.
  3. Contact nearest Police authority and inform of the death
  4. Remove children from sight of bodies
  5. Grim as it is, photograph the scene – especially any technical equipment setups
  6. Keep occupied with tasks. It distracts you and the group
  7. Do not talk to the press. Only speak to rescue personnel and the police or embassy staff
  8. Arrange trauma counselling after the trip

Your trip leaders should be trained to deal with this eventuality, so follow their lead unless they are the person involved, in which case the above points will help you to deal with the situation.

Plan 10

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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.