Dealing with bush emergencies

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    East London
    Thanked: 2762

    Default Re: Leopard Incident- Matopi

    I feel that this and related threads have served a very useful purpose. I am not referring to the to the controversy of the rights of humans in the domain of wild animals and vice versa.

    I hope it has woken all wilderness travelers to the fact that mishaps in the bush can have serious consequences. I hope this stimulates us all to mentally walk through what we would do and how we would cope under similar circumstances. I think we also need to accept that any trip into the wild far from help entails this sort of risk. Of the many disasters possible an attack from a big cat would seem one of the least likely. A potentially lethal natural illness such as a heart attack is far more likely. Next would be some sort of motor vehicle accident or major injury that can occur with adventure travel. Then there are risks like lethal snake bites and injuries from animals such as crocs and hippos etc.

    The point I am making is that no amount of preparation or background expertise can completely eliminate these risks or enable one to always cope with the emergency successfully. People die of heart attacks at home and from accidents on the M1. Adventure travel to isolated wild areas will always carry risk. If these risks deter those that are risk averse, well and good. If it was easy and risk-free then everyone would be doing it and the peace and quiet we all seek will be stolen from us. Accept the risks of being far from help and adjust accordingly.

    One does need to minimize the risks and to equip oneself as best possible to cope with the type of threat to life that will occur on rare occasions. I would suggest the following should form part of your planning:

    • Responsible behavior avoiding unnecessary risks.
    • A clear understanding of potential risks.
    • Equip yourselves with the medical kit and training to cope as best you can under these type of circumstances. There is no need to go overboard here as most often the die is already cast and the outcome is predetermined by the nature of the injury/illness.
    • Ensure that your travel companion(s) can also drive the vehicle for help through rough terrain.
    • Discuss and walk through scenarios beforehand so that the chances of taking the correct decisions under chaotic circumstances are optimized.
    • Carry a satellite phone so that help and advice can be obtained as rapidly as possible.
    • Be aware of where the nearest help can be obtained.
    • Carry a useful set of phone numbers for emergencies.
    • If the vehicle is not driveable stay with the vehicle.
    • Take out comprehensive travel insurance including air evacuation. Medical aids will cover neighboring countries in some cases. Have this information and phone numbers at hand. Accept that often evacuation by road will be the quickest.
    • When seeking help be sure to be able to identify your location accurately. GPS points would be best.
    • Give a clear and calm assessment of the medical problem.
    • Where early air evacuation is going to be delayed, take an early decision to evacuate by road.
    • The most difficult issue for the layman is the balance between stabilizing the victim and rushing for help. Do not waste too much time at the site.
    • Keep the emergency center notified of your movements. They can often arrange for an aircraft or ambulance and paramedics to meet you half way.
    • Carry a typed list of background medical conditions, allergies and chronic medications.
    • Traveling in a group will at times make a critical difference.
    • Take malaria prophylaxis where appropriate.
    • Major illnesses often begin with subtle warning signs. Head for help expeditiously.
    • Excessive alcohol use in inappropriate localities can lead to risky behavior and bad decisions.

    Incidentally I do not believe this woman would have survived an 10-12 hour road trip from Matopi to Upington if she had a femoral artery injury. A tourniquet is most unlikely to control such bleeding over a prolonged period of time.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report from post 315.

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