Theologically and philosophically informed ruminations on everything between summit to shore, especially kayaking, sailing, backpacking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, and travel by John Edward Harris, a progressive Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Minister of Word and Sacrament.
only a little after nine in the morning, and I am already lost. I am lost in thick
woods that I have never been in before. I’m not going to panic however, even though
I have never before been lost. I pull a four foot by six foot waterproof green nylon tarp
out of my day pack and spread it on the damp ground.Fortunately I also have a closed cell sleeping pad strapped to the
bottom of my Kelty pack. I unstrap it and
unroll it flat on top of the tarp.I
have water and food and am now ready to stay where I am until found, so I sit
down on the pad and tarp to wait.
One of my rescuers approaches
long after I am down I realize that the mosquitoes are ferocious and that I
forgot my insect repellent at home.I
pull a mosquito net head covering from my pack and put it on over my head. I
drag the sleeping pad off the tarp, lay the pad back on the bare ground, and
drape the tarp over my body to keep the dozens of mosquitoes from biting me.I am beginning to wish I had worn longs pants
and a long sleeve shirt rather than the t-shirt and hiking shorts I am wearing.
hour has now passed, and I crawl out from underneath the tarp, locate my water
bottle, and take a long drink as hundreds of mosquitoes swarm upon my bare
legs and arms in search of blood. Crawling back under the tarp I wonder how long
I can keep this up.The mosquitos and I
repeat this dance on what seems like an hourly schedule.
is now three hours since I became lost, and I am starting to feel a little
hungry. After all, I have not eaten in over four and half hours.I locate the Cliff Bar in my pack, unwrap it,
and discover it is peanut butter, (yum), one of my favorite flavors. As I devour it, I wonder if mosquitoes have a
sense of taste and what the thousands of them nearby think about the flavor of
my blood. I am also beginning to wonder if I will ever be found by anything
other than these ferocious vampires of the woods that hover above the netting
covering my face .I have not heard a barking
dog or a human voice all morning; although if I allow my imagination to run
wild, the mosquitoes buzzing near my ears sound an a lot like distant human
At Base Camp
after nearly five long hours, I start hearing what I think are real human voices
rather than the whine, hum and buzz of the mosquitoes, but I do not hear any
dogs barking. The voices seem to be getting
closer.I hear twigs snapping and
branches breaking and then footfalls.Now
I see my rescuers walking through the dense foilage. Thank heavens I am found. My three rescuers tell me that they have been
searching for me over two and half hours but that they had a large search area
to cover.I later learn that the dogs
had been recalled because it was too hot for them to follow a
at base camp, the organizers of the event, members of the Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group,
thank me for being “lost” for their mock Search and Rescue.They apologize that I was in the mosquito
infested woods for nearly six hours, and that sometimes victims are found in
less than an hour, and sometimes it takes a lot longer. As I
drive away, I wonder who the mosquitoes are feeding on now.
When I ordered First Aid Afloat, prepublication and sight unseen, I did not realize that the publisher, Wiley Nautical, was a British Publisher. I encountered the first giveaway on page 18, when I read, “Heart disease is the main cause of death in the United Kingdom.” While British-isms abound in this 127 page paperback, the only time the British bias is a detriment is on pages 108-109, where all the directions for obtaining radio medical advice refers to the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, and the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and where all the references to the “coastguard” are to the British coastguard.
I am new to sailing, having bought my first sailboat only a few months ago. One of the first things I did after buying the 24 footer was to assemble a first aid kit.
While I might be new to sailing, I am not new to first aid or emergency medicine. In my younger years I was an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and held various ARC First Aid certifications as well as both ARC and American Heart Association CPR certifications. I was a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician and worked as a professional EMT for nine months. Therefore, I knew the importance of having a well-stocked first aid kit aboard my sail boat, and I know how to use everything in it.
I bought First Aid Afloat not so that I could read it and use it in an emergency, but so that I could put in my boat’s first aid kit for other people to use in case I was not on board or I was sick or injured and could not render first aid to myself. Not overly technical and written and illustrated clear enough for the layperson, First Aid Afloat could very save a life, includingmy own.
What I like most about this book is that it is small boat specific. Both a powerboat and a sailboat appear on the cover, but neither is large. The text assumes one is aboard a small yacht. This is most obvious on page 54, where the text reads, “Commercially available splints for the leg are available, but tend to be bulky, and would tie up too much space on board a small yacht to be carried as part of the emergency kit."
A couple other examples of the small boat specificity of the text are on page 106. “When moving a causality, particularly in the small confined spaces on a yacht, you must consider personal and causality safety, the condition of the causality, manpower and equipment on board, and basic principles of lifting and moving.” Also “Improvisation is useful. For example, a stretcher can be fashioned from jackets and dinghy oars. The oars can be placed through the jacket sleeves with jacket fronts closed around them to create the stretcher, but always test that it will take the casualty’s weight before using it.”
There are probably more books about emergency first aid than could fit on a small boat, including many about first aid in wilderness and backcountry settings as well as first aid manuals specifically aimed toward recreational boaters and professional mariners. I find this slim volume complete enough for the small sailboat I own, one that will probably be limited to day cruises, or no more than an overnight cruise, and probably never out of radio range or more than a few hours from shore. It might even be the only first aid manual I keep in my boats first aid kit.
The list price of First Aid Afloat, by Sandra Roberts, is $26.95, but I bought it from Amazon.Com for $17.95.