First Aid in the Wilderness It’s as Easy as A, B, C, D, E |

First Aid in the Wilderness It’s as Easy as A, B, C, D, E

Here’s a simple and easy to remember first aid structure that can save a life in the wilderness

Posted on

11 June 2018

Last updated on 10 July 2018
First Aid in the Wilderness It’s as Easy as A, B, C, D, E

Living in the UAE gives us easy access to all kinds of fabulous outdoor activities. Off-roading, trekking, diving, mountain biking, kayaking, surfing, desert camping are just of few of those available. Before participating in these adventures it makes sense for someone in the party to have had some appropriate first aid training.

One of challenges with outdoor sports is they are often undertaken in a ‘Wilderness’ type environment - defined as a remote geographical location more than an hour from definitive medical care.

Extreme variations in temperature, difficult and unfamiliar terrain with limited communication links present challenges it’s best to be prepared for.

SEE ALSO: Sun Safety Tips: Keeping Your Child Safe this Summer in Dubai

It may be an old saying but it’s very true, prevention is always better than cure. Minimizing the risks by preparing an emergency action plan for your activity, including checking weather, notifying others such as family of your planned route, ensuring you have basic first aid equipment appropriate for your activity and a mechanism for calling or accessing emergency services are vital.

Being prepared for any emergency and having the confidence and competence to deal with it is essential. It is recommended that outdoor sport enthusiasts undertake an approved First Aid course, to gain a competent skill level.

To get you started you can use the A, B, C, D, E approach to First Aid, it is a simple and easy to remember structure that can literally save a life.

Before using the A,B,C,D,E<.strong> system, rescuers should always start with the 3 S’s. Safety, Stimulation, Shout for Help.


Does the environment pose any risk to the rescuer or the casualty? Consider the mechanism of the injury.


Talk to the casualty, are they conscious? If they are conscious ask if they have any pain, illnesses, allergies.

Shout for Help

Call other members of the group to assist, and call emergencies if alone call emergency services immediately

On completing the 3 S’s rapidly move on to the A, B, C, D, E assessment.

A - Airway

Can the casualty talk to you in full sentences? if they can the airway is clear. Listen for unusual noises such as gurgling, snoring, wheeze. Clear the airway as quickly as possible, usually by positioning them on their side if unconscious or sitting upright if conscious.

B - Breathing

Is the casualty breathing? Look at the chest for normal rise and fall with both sides moving equally. Unequal movement can indicate a life threatening emergency.

Observe the colour of the skin, a bluish, grey tone often means poor oxygen levels.

If the casualty is not breathing you may need to assist them using rescue breaths.

C - Circulation

Does the casualty have a pulse and is it regular and strong? Check by feeling at the wrist, or neck. If you can’t feel it you may have to compress the chest (CPR - cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Check for any signs of active bleeding you may have to apply pressure to the wound to control bleeding and if it’s a limb injury consider elevating it, without causing pain.

Are they showing signs of dehydration? Give them water, even better an electrolyte drink

D - Disability

Consider the risk of neck and back injury avoid any movement.

Is the casualty conscious, and orientated? If they are unconscious their airway is at risk, manage as in Airway.

If they are conscious ask simple questions such as name, where they are, date to ascertain any potential injury to the brain.

Is there any sign of obvious fracture? If there is immobilise the limb to minimise movement.

E- Exposure / Environment

Check the casualty from head to toe, looking for bruising, rashes, swollen areas, paying particular attention to the abdomen where internal bleeding may have occurred. Check for burn, bite, sting marks and identify with casualty what may have caused them.

Consider the temperature of the environment.

Does the casualty need to be cooled/warmed?

Do you need to move the casualty? Plan how you can do this without causing injury to yourself or further injury to the casualty.

Most wilderness injuries and illnesses are relatively minor in nature with the 6 most common injuries being:

  1. Wounds and infections
  2. Burns
  3. Knee and Ankle Injuries
  4. Blisters
  5. Dehydration
  6. Shock

However, if they are left untreated they can become significant. Using the A, B, C, D, E system to assess and reassess assists the rescuer to keep the casualty stable until definitive medical services take over care.

At Dubai First Aid we regularly run Wilderness First Aid Courses which give you the knowledge, practice and vital skills to cope in a real-life situation. Why not join liked minded adventurers on our next summer course which is being run at our training centre in JLT on Friday 22nd June and Saturday 23 June from 8 am till 5 pm each day.

Call or contact us for further details, please visit our website Caduceus Medical Training Centre by email [email protected] or Phone us on 045547056.