Rural & Remote First Aid

Why you need Remote Area First Aid, not just the basics.

So you’re out in the paddock doing the usual. You’re moving a mob of cattle and they just seem reluctant in the heat of the day to go where you want them to go. Most of you are on horseback, but some of you are on the motorbikes and a couple on a quad bike. One of the cows breaks away from the pack and your mate on a motorbike takes off after it. You roll your eyes because you’ve been doing is long enough to know that you’ve got time to do it carefully. But unfortunately your workmate that has taken off is new and hasn’t taken into account all of the risks involved.

Sure enough, he hits a rut, bounces slightly sideways and collides headfirst with a tree. It actually looks a little bit comical. But as you go over to check him you realise that 40 km an hour on a bike into a tree is pretty hard hit!

You’re trained in first aid so you do your thing, but he is not overly responsive and you start to panic a little. “I need an ambulance” you think to yourself. “I need it now!” But it is going to take some time…….

A simple, but all too common example of what can go wrong when you’re a long way from home. Add to this that home is a long way from anywhere! It’s a no-brainer that you need a good level of first aid training to be of any use out here. But which course is right for you and your organisation?

Typically the defining feature that determines the need for Remote Area First Aid as opposed to ‘normal’ First Aid is the time to access critical care. The ‘normal’ first aid course, or what we used to call Workplace first aid, is okay for interventions on first aid but is designed to assume that access to medical care is within 30 minutes. But this is a little simplistic. There is a little more to it. We need to bring in the Risk factors associated with the location and the type of work being done. For the vast majority of our customers, a medical response timeline of less than 30 minutes is simply not feasible.

The major differences between normal first aid (HLTAID003 Provide First Aid) and Remote Area First Aid (HLTAID005 Provide First Aid in Remote Situations) are; Firstly and fore-mostly, the ability to monitor the patient for an extended period of time post incident and respond to changes that occur in the patient and/or conditions over time. Secondly, the movement of a patient where it is not feasible, for either time or location, for medical aid to reach the site of the incident. Thirdly, a module on risk planning to make sure the appropriate controls are put into place prior to undertaking any activity that the bases have been covered to prevent incidents and to react appropriately if an incident does occur.

For example, lets say the work place is a gas pipeline maintenance site in an isolated location. The nature of the work is hot and manual but the location of the work is only on the defined worksite (ie not mobile up and down the pipeline) and there is an airstrip nearby. The distance by air for an air ambulance is 30 mins from take off to landing. So, just by time alone we could say that the course requirements are for HLTAID003 Provide First Aid, ‘normal’ First Aid would be okay. But, what is the nature of the the work? Are injuries likely to be high impact? How often is the air ambulance not on the ground at its base? What sort of medical facilities and trained personnel (such as paramedics) are on site permanently? The combination of the answers to these and other questions about operation and medical response will determine the level of training needed. Compare the same worksite but we are assessing the team. Clearly the injury risk profile is quite different. Make sure to factor in any pre-existing medical conditions/complaints that might be amongst your workforce.

Contrast that with the worker on a remote cattle station that work away from a base, operates a motorbike around cattle in undulating terrain. Clearly a time and injury risk elevation.

And when in doubt, default to the higher level of training/care possible. The price difference isn’t that large to take a lessor option unnecessarily! The final reminder is that the recommendation is for CPR to be updated every 12 months and all higher course levels to be undertaken every 3 years.

If you not sure where to head with it all, email us on or call 0491 057 339. We’ll be happy to guide you through it.

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