Remote First Aid training for the Environmental Water Team
By Beth Wright, Technical Trainer & Communications Coordinator
It was a beautiful, sunny morning on June 1st when Water First’s Environmental Water team gathered in the main cabin at Mansfield Outdoor Centre in Mulmur, Ontario. We would be spending the next two days as a group in this cabin, taking the Canadian Red Cross Remote First Aid course.
This course is designed to equip you with the first aid skills you need to provide care in a remote environment. The Environmental Water team – or Enviro team for short – spends a lot of time in remote settings without cell service to deliver our projects and training, so it’s smart for us to be prepared if there’s an emergency.
I find in-person training like this to be extra special. Most Water First staff work remotely from our homes across Ontario and Canada, and opportunities to collaborate face-to-face are rare. When teams get the chance to gather in real life, there’s an element of excitement in the air.
There were 11 of us in the group, and we spent the first few minutes of the morning talking and catching up with each other. Once the chatting subsided, Steve, our very knowledgeable instructor, dove right into the first topics of the course.
The morning was spent covering first response protocol, including what to look for and how to treat immediate injuries and illness like asthma, allergy attacks, heart disease, and more. In the afternoon, we were introduced to the first aid dummies. Steve showed everyone how to properly use an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) and administer CPR.
I’ve taken first aid training before, but it was great to have a refresher. Training like this equips a person with essential life-saving skills and knowledge. By learning these techniques, we can enhance our ability to respond effectively in emergency situations. These skills not only benefit others, but also instill a sense of confidence in our own capabilities.
The most critical thing I learned was the initial first aid steps to follow. Knowing the established order of what to do – including checking your surroundings, checking for responsiveness, checking for breathing and circulation, etc. – gave me the confidence to be able to respond calmly and swiftly in an emergency.
At Water First, we believe there’s always time for fun. Once the first day of training was done, we walked down to a small, clear stream that ran through the property just a short distance from the main cabin. We spent time swimming and relaxing before going back to start dinner and build a fire for s’mores.
I find this part of in-person training, when we’ve basically “clocked out” for the day and can sit and enjoy each other’s company, to be just as important as the actual learning. Strong team bonding facilitates open and effective communication among team members. When people feel comfortable and connected, they’re more likely to share ideas, express concerns, and collaborate smoothly.
It was a fun night of chatting around the fire, playing beach volleyball, and enjoying the warm evening outside – but then it was time to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for another day of first aid skill-building.
We all woke up on day two eager to learn more. In the second half of the course, we touched on methods for transporting unconscious and injured people, making slings and splints to treat breaks, sprains and strains, and how to stop bleeding and dress wounds. In the afternoon, we got into small groups to act out scenarios and ensure we knew the proper steps and actions to take for different emergencies. This hands-on training was coupled with wilderness survival techniques like building a shelter, setting up camp, and treating conditions like heat stroke and hypothermia.
At the end of day two, we all packed up and said our goodbyes as we piled into our cars to head home. I spent the drive back reflecting on this amazing opportunity to strengthen our knowledge and bond as a team. From wilderness survival techniques to medical attention in remote settings, we gained a wealth of knowledge that we will carry with us in the field. My colleague Jesse even taught me how to build a fire, which is a handy new camping skill to go along with my first aid skills.
Water First is an organization that focuses on education and training in water science fields. We know how critical it is to continue to learn and grow so we can deliver effective training programs. By investing in our own professional development, we’re not only strengthening our individual abilities but also elevating the Environmental Water team as a whole.