What is In a First Aid Kit
We all know that our sport can be dangerous and deadly when accidents occur. When they do occur the best defense is to be prepared to deal with the injuries that may be present. The local paramedics should be called right away but what if your DZ is isolated from the local town or maybe the injury is minor and does not need professional help.
What sort of things should you have on your Drop Zone? Where should the first aid equipment be located? What involvement can the local rescue squad, fire department and police department have?
All of these questions will be addressed.
While one DZ with a trained medical professional may have first aid equipment items A, B, C, D and E. A local DZ without trained personnel may only have A and B. There are many things that can be useful in the case of an emergency but many medical supplies can be dangerous and deadly if you do not have the proper knowledge to use them.
Every DZ should have a basic first aid kit. The kit should include bandages to control bleeding, ice packs for injuries, slings for upper extremity injuries, splints for fractures, ace wraps for sprains, sterile saline or hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol to clean cuts and abrasions.
What else should you have? Shears or heavy scissors to cut off clothing, jump suits or rigs if the need arises. A watch with a second hand. This will allow you to accurately check the pulse or respirations per minute. A stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. These are fairly simple to use and you can learn quickly from a trained medical professional how to take an accurate blood pressure. A pen and notepad can be invaluable. They can be used to record the time of injury, pulse, respirations, blood pressure, phone numbers and also to mark where a pulse can be felt on an injured arm or leg.
What else can be useful?
There are many things that can be useful to someone trained in the medical field. Things that I have found useful at the DZ are oxygen tanks and masks, cervical collars and intravenous equipment to start fluid resuscitation to name a few. These are not things that should be used haphazardly and can be harmful if not used properly by trained medical professionals.
However, if you are the DZO or ST&A at a local DZ and have trained paramedics, nurses or physicians discuss with them what they would be comfortable having available in the event of emergency and have that equipment available to them.
Where should you put the First Aid Kit
The kit should be placed in a central location. It should be easily accessible and everyone that will be involved in the case of an injury should know its location. There is no point in having it locked in a locker or office if everyone has to go searching for the person with the key. At some larger DZ's there may realistically be a need for more than one first aid kit depending on the layout of the DZ.
If you have a trained medical professional on the DZ and have supplies that should be used only by those with a medical license, separate the equipment. Have a central, accessible kit containing only basic equipment including bandages, ice packs, splints, etc. In a more secure location have a second first aid kit with more advanced equipment that will only be given to those who are trained to use it.
Get People Involved
For the past few years at Skydive Cross Keys the DZO has worked closely with the local fire department and rescue squad. Every spring the local departments come to the DZ with all of their equipment. On site at the DZ they practice extricating a skydiver from a tree and run drills with different accident scenarios.
The fire and rescue personnel also get familiarized with skydiving equipment and learn first hand about the helmets, jumpsuits and rigs.
Give your local squad a call and find out if they would be interested in doing similar drills at your DZ.
Get the local authorities prepared if you are planning upcoming events at your DZ. If you have a boogie, competition or other large event planned let the local fire and rescue department know when the event will run and how many skydivers you expect. This allows the medical personnel to be prepared for injuries. Most large events that are held at my home DZ have an ambulance stationed at the DZ throughout most of the day.
As the busy skydiving season approaches for many DZ's step back and evaluate if you are as prepared as you can be. Talk to local jumpers who are medically trained. Open up the old first aid kit that is on the DZ. Are there things that need to be replaced or added to make the kit complete? Call the local ambulance or fire department and invite them to come to the DZ, practice their drills and receive an introduction to the gear they might run into.
Accidents do happen, and the best medicine is to be prepared when it happens.
Kudos to anyone who is willing to tackle a much neglected issue that is prevalent at the majority of Drop Zones throughout the world.
But what do you do when there isn’t anyone to use this medical kit?
First Aid and CPR continue to be hotly debated subjects, when any discussion turns to this subject. Unfortunately common sense and patient advocacy go out the window when the subject of liability and responsibility come up. WHY our safety and health take a back seat to the pencil pushers and naysayers is beyond me. It’s our safety when we are injured. This should be a concern of every jumper, everywhere. Why isn’t it, is the question?
Perhaps when faced with our own mortality this is a subject that we would rather not face? Perhaps it’s the widely held belief that someone, some yet un-named person or organization has this issue covered. They have a plan or policy in place that has these issues covered? Well, UNFORTUNATLY the vast majority of Drop Zones do a very poor job of assisting you, if you suffer a casualty. The vast majority of Drop Zones do not have a plan, shy away from training their personnel, and frequently stop trained personnel from ever knowing the severity of an incident, never mind the idea of rendering the most basic and simple first aid. At the best the policy is to pick up the phone and call someone else.
If we look at the big world around us; just about every person in a public setting, is required to have a mediocrity of first aid training and CPR training. From every Bus driver, school teacher, lifeguard and public servant this is and has been a job requirement for many years now. What about our organization? How do we set an example?
Not very well I’m afraid. We generally leave this to someone else. We have the Safety and Training Advisor. I mean the very word implies that they know something about safety, Right??? WRONG. How about spending a few hours to learn a valuable skill? Unfortunately the very people that we place our misguided trust in are not required to have any credentials or experience in this area whatsoever. That’s not the public perception however. The vast majority of skydivers are running around thinking to themselves that the majority of Drop Zones have the injury issues solved, that they have a plan in place and in the event of an injury they will be promptly and expertly covered. They do not and this should be a major concern of every jumper worldwide.
Leadership is sorely lacking. From the top down the subject of first aid is ignored and or passed on to someone else. The USPA has continually shirked their responsibility in this area by allowing Drop Zones to continue to do whatever the local custom is. In other words it’s a free for all out there and frequently this translates into no care whatsoever by anyone. I find this “Ostrich” behavior disturbing. It is unconscionable to me that skydiving has no casualty safety requirements, no first aid training requirement, and no CPR training requirements whatsoever. And it is the epitome of hypocrisy to not require our S&TA’s to at least have the same level of training as required of my children’s kindergarten teachers. A couple of hours of training could save someone’s life, but apparently this is too much to ask of those charged with overseeing our safety. This isn’t an academic discussion. A number of recent incidents has painfully illustrated that the total lack of training and knowledge has deprived many of better medical care, or at least a chance at life. How these people sleep at night is beyond me? As it stands this notion that the DZ protects itself by not requiring trained personnel, liability wise is insane. Looking at this another way is saying the equivalent that you’re not going to receive any first aid, regardless of trained personnel being present or not because our business is more important than a human life! The worst are those Drop Zones that actually interfere with the first responders and actively try to control the “scene” to the fatal detriment of the injured person. Again, this is not an academic discussion; this is how the sad state of affairs currently exists. This is the definition of “gross negligence,” is borderline criminal behavior, and is not protected by any legal waiver. Never mind the fact that this inaction is morally reprehensible.
So again Kudos to you for preparing a “Kit” now find the people that know how to use it, and a Drop Zone that will let them.
More articles in this category:
- The Other Certification Every Skydiver Needs: A WFR Card - by Annette O'Neil (Posted: 2016-05-05)
- What is In a First Aid Kit - by Adam Rosen (Posted: 2004-05-14)