Accidents can happen at any time to any member of a ski touring party and it is important that all members of the party can provide First Aid to someone who has had an accident or been injured – this isn’t just the leader’s responsibility (it may be the leader who has been hurt!). In the Alps, help can often be summoned quite quickly by mobile phone and delivered by helicopter; however this isn’t always the case – there may be no phone signal, or the weather may prevent helicopters from flying, so a party must be prepared to be self-reliant. In remote locations this is obviously even more important.
This section of the website contains links to resources about First Aid.
Standard First Aid courses often assume that professional help can be quickly on the scene, and training is based around this assumption. However, this often isn’t the case whilst ski touring so a REC (Rescue Emergency Care) course geared to a mountain environment may be more appropriate.
The Eagle Ski Club normally runs a REC course every year or so (generally in the Autumn) – details will be published in the Programme of UK Events. Similar courses are also provided by the Austrian Alpine Club and the BMC.
In order to keep the knowledge fresh in your mind for when you need it, it is recommended that such a course is repeated every 3 years.
There are a large number of books available on First Aid, but the selection below have been suggested as particularly useful for ski touring:
Pocket First Aid and Wilderness Medicine by Drs Jim Duff and Ross Anderson
(published by Cicerone – Twelfth Edition, 2017 – third edition by Cicerone)
Outdoor First Aid by Katherine Wills
(published by Pesda Press – 2013)
Avalanche First Aid
Catherine Mangham has developed the ESC Avalanche First Aid card giving an easy to follow algorithm for companion rescue first aid in an avalanche situation
An article by Declan Phelan in the Eagle Ski Club Yearbook 2014 provides an excellent summary of actions to take once you have dug out an avalanche victim.
High Altitude Sickness
A summary of the physiology, prevention, recognition and treatment of High Altitude Sickness is given in an article by Catherine Mangham in an article in the Eagle Ski Club Yearbook 2013.
Hypothermia and Frostbite
An article by Declan Phelan in the Eagle Ski Club Yearbook 2013 provides an overview of the causes, diagnosis and treatment of hypothermia and of frostbite.