Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wilderness First Aid

Several trip leaders took the SOLO Wilderness First Aid class through Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures. We figured that if there was an emergency on a trip a few of people should have a clue.
The biggest difference between wilderness first aid and standard first aid is the distance between the victim and real medical care. the standard first aid protocols are established around the premise that an ambulance, with highly trained paramedics, tons of equipment, and a radio link to doctors, is a phone call away and can be on scene quickly. In wilderness first aid, the assumption is that an ambulance is at least an hour away and likely cannot get within a mile of the victim's location.
This difference changes the basic dynamics of how to best assist the injured party. In a standard first aid situation, you would do a just enough of an assessment to call for help and then wait for help to arrive. If the injury was bad enough, say choking, heart failure, respiratory distress, you may intervene. In wilderness first aid, you need to do a much more thorough assessment, figure out if outside help is required, and how to treat the injuries while waiting for help to arrive. You also need to determine how to get outside help if it is needed: Can you radio or phone for assistance? Who do you send out? Does the patient need to be moved to a more accessible location?
We covered a lot of ground in two days and ran many scenarios. The first day focused on the basics of patient and situational assessment and patient movement.
In wilderness situations, particularly the types encountered in kayaking, accidents do not happen in places where you can safely manage a patient. An injured person can easily drown if they get a mouthful of water. Because of this, a patient will probably need to be moved to a safe location before anything else can happen. Moving a victim goes against everything in standard first aid, but if a person is injured in the surf zone on the beach they need to be moved. It is not safe for the victim and it not safe for the rescuers. (The most important person in any emergency situation is the rescuers, not the victim.) We were shown a technique called BEAMing. Essentially it means moving the injured person while keeping them immobilized. The general rule is no less than three, no more than six. One person manages the head and spine. The person at the head runs the show. Then as a unit, the group moves the patient to a safe location.
Once the patient is in a safe location, you need to asses the patient's condition. First you need to check for critical issues: attention, breath, circulation, da spine, environment. As you go through the checklist, you annotate move to the next step only after the previous one is cleared. If the patient's airway is compromised, you need to fix that before worrying about the bleeding or if the patient is cold.
Once the critical checklist is cleared, you can move on to a more detailed patient assessment. The detailed assessment should provide enough information for you to start treating the patient and provide revue personnel the information needed to mount a proper rescue. It should include vital signs, pertinent patient history, details of how the accident happened, the condition of the group as a whole, and what you are doing to treat the patient. This should all be written down and sent out with the people getting help. You should also keep a copy with the patient. The patient copy should be updated while waiting for rescue.
We also covered how to deal with injuries and common conditions. Most of this was stuff that outdoor enthusiast already sort of know, but can always be reinforced. I don't think you can ever be reminded how to identify and treat hypothermia, dehydration, or hyperthermia enough.
It was a lot of information to absorb. It was also humbling to know how hard doing this was in a safe, controlled environment. Having taken the course, I fell better about my ability to handle myself in an emergency. However, I also know that I'll probably make a ton of mistakes. At least, I'll be able to do something which is better than doing nothing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Evening paddle

PB had a great idea for our wilderness first aid weekend: a post class paddle. The weather was going to be perfect and we'd have plenty of light.
It was perfect. I hadn't been on the water in what felt like forever, so an easy paddle was just thing for me.
We arrived at Gooseberry Point just after five. The sky was clear and starting to cool. The wind was quiet. The low sun cast gentle light over the beach and water.
JS was keen to find some surf action if he could, so we headed west to see what Horseneck beach had for surf. Once we rounded the point we found an area that looked promising for catching a few rides. PB and JS tried to catch a few rides. I gave it a few half-hearted attempts, but really just wanted to enjoy the time on the water.
All to soon, the sun started setting and we had to turn home. As we paddled back to the beach, the sun cast a gold tinged crimson glow on the bottom of the clouds. It was extraordinary.
The paddle was so relaxing, that even the mean park ranger shooing out of the lot couldn't sour my mood.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gearing Up

I love my Tricross single speed. Not worrying about shifting and the silence of the drive train are magical. The only trouble with a single speed is that you need to be in good enough shape to complete your ride in the bike's gear. It was becoming obvious to me that I was not in good enough shape to complete my commute to and from work in the bike's gear. It was also obvious that I was not going to be able to get into good enough shape if I kept trying to do it on the single speed.
I needed gears.
I have an old geared bike, but I just don't like riding it. The drive train is twitchy and the aluminum frame rattles my bones over the smallest bumps. I could have done some upgrading by putting better components into the drive train and getting a carbon fork, but that seemed like a lot of money to put into a cheap bike.
So I decided to buy a new bike. I knew what I wanted: my single speed with gears. I considered putting an internally geared hub on the single speed, but there are no shifter choices for drop bars. I wasn't really prepared to spend the money needed to switch to straight bars. Nor was I convinced that I wanted to ride on straight bars.
Then I saw that my local bike shop had a new Tricross Comp in stock. It is the same frame as my single speed, but with a Shimano 105 drive train. I figured I'd give it a test ride and see if it felt right. While I was there I also tried out a few other cross bikes, just to make sure.
Two of the other bikes that I tried had SRAM components, but I really didn't like the double tap shifting. Remembering that one tap did something and two taps did something else and a long tap did a third thing just wasn't working for me. The other bikes were also more traditional cross racing frames and felt twitchy.
The Tricross' shudders are easy to understand and smooth as butter to shift. The geometry is nice as well. It is a slightly relaxed cross racing geometry. It is a little longer and more stable which is what I was looking for in a commuting bike. The Triccross frame also is fender and rack ready. O e other nice feature of the Tricross is the triple from ring. The granny gears come in handy on the big hill between the bike path and home after a long day at work.
After two weeks and 200 miles on the bike, I am very happy with the upgrade. It really is just like riding the single speed, but with gears. I thought that I would be bothered by needing to constantly think about the gears and the clicking of the cassette. Instead I find that I appreciate the gears because I can commute to work in a reasonable amount of time without nearly killing myself.
In fact, I hardly even think about the gears. I just tap the lever when I feel like I'm struggling. The click of the cassette is a pleasant chant reminding me that all is well. Good gears are great.

Chariot Courgar

H and I wanted a way to take Bug biking with us, so we needed a baby carrier for our bikes. We both liked the idea of a trailer better than a child seat. The trailer seems safer because it is lower to the ground and has a built in roll cage. Having a child carrier on the back of a bike (I cannot even imagine that the front mounted seats are safe) changes the balance of the bike and means the baby falls the same distance to the ground.
I did a bunch of research to see if my bias was wrong. The bike mounted carriers are generally cost less than the trailers. It turns out that there are a lot of conflicting opinions, but no hard facts. There is no statistical evidence that either the trailer or the bike mounted carrier is safer. Carrier people like having the child close to them so they interact with the child and feel that the risk of a trailer getting hit by a car is worth the danger of the child falling. Trailer people think the trailers are safer because they are less likely to flip and the child is better protected in any accident.
Since there was no hard evidence, we decided to go with a trailer. Then we had to find the right trailer. There are a wide range of trailers on the market and a correspondingly wide range of prices. We quickly ruled out the low end trailers. Some just looked cheap others didn't get good reviews. Bug's safety and comfort is worth going up a notch.
The two big names in trailers are Burley and Chariot. I looked at both and read a ton of reviews. The prices were comparable as were most of the features. From my reading, the Chariot trailers seemed to be a notch better. The Chariot's also had a few spiffy features the Burley did not: adjustable spring suspension, easy store trailer arm, and a ton of conversion kits.
We opted to get the mid-level Chariot, the Cougar. It was not cheap, but it seems worth it so far. It is well constructed. The cockpit is well ventilated and the integrated screen and rain cover is easy to use. The strap system is well padded and easy to use. One nice feature is that the back has a pocket so that the back of the child's helmet doesn't push against the back panel.
The trailer also has a ton of storage. There is a good sized trunk and a big mesh pocket on the back.
We've taken it out once, and it performed admirably. The hitch is a simple ball hitch that hooks up without any trouble. When in motion it rolls along smoothly. You can tell there is some weight behind you, but it is not too bad. Getting used to the wider turn radius was a little difficult.
Bug seemed to enjoy the ride. She chatted away one the way out and fell asleep on the way home.
The best part was that we had a stroller to push around in between bike riding stints. We had ridden into Lexington to do a bit of shopping, so having a stroller was key.