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Because You Never Know

January 2, 2013

As someone who frequently works in remote parts of national parks  where immediate access to medical care is limited, I value any first aid training available to me. In November of 2011, I participated in a Wilderness First Responder class. This 10-day intensive class focused on honing practical medical skills. I immediately felt better prepared to take care of myself and others, and now before every major trip to the field, I take an online refresher course in basic first aid and CPR. I’ve rarely had to use my skills in the field, and only on small cuts and scrapes. That changed last summer.

Haleakala Trail

“On my recent trip to Haleakala National Park everything was business as usual. That changed last summer. “

On my most recent water quality sampling trip to the Kīpahulu area of Haleakalā National Park everything was business as usual. My coworker, Liz Moore, and I were hiking up the Pipiwai Trail collecting water samples when we encountered a woman and her friend sitting on the trail. She was clutching her ankle. It was clear she was in pain. We approached her, identified ourselves and began assessing the situation. They described hearing a snap as the woman twisted her ankle while hiking. It was clearly swollen and she was having problems putting any weight on it. We were a little over a mile up the trail and knew that the woman would not be able to hike down the trial on her own.

I immediately thought back to my training. We radioed headquarters to ask for assistance in transporting the woman to safety. I remembered there is a nearby road used for trail maintenance, and knew that we could get her to a point where she could be picked up in a vehicle and driven to further care. Once we knew that help was on the way, we tended to the injury with the acronym R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) ringing in my ears. We used a method called the “crutch carry” to help her down the trail to a point where she could be picked up. She was very grateful that park staff was there to help. I feel lucky that I was able to help a visitor. It’s a reminder to always keep safety in mind and keep current with trainings because you never know when you’ll need to aid a friend, a family member, or a stranger on a trail. Safe hiking !

—A. Farahi, NPS  Biological Technician

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