Friday, 18 February 2011

Into the Wild

Off to South Africa in the morning for some serious Bush survival.

No Internet out that way, so I'll report on the course and the solar charging gear I'm taking when I get back in ten days or so.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Caveat Comestor

Martin Dorey, a chap who lives a few villages down, is currently on the telly in his series One Man and His Campervan. It's a fab early evening series with Martin touring around the country having excellent countryside and culinary adventures. It's presently in iPlayer is you can access it:

One Man and His Campervan - BBC iPlayer

In the first episode he came to my fishing village for the mackerel and then to one of my favourite farm shops for some other supplies. It's always odd recognising places and people I know on TV.

The second was of great interest to me as he headed off to the New Forest some foraging. There were some absolute classics, such as Chick Weed and Wild Thyme and I imagine a few Dandelions and Jack by the Hedge.

Martin and his wild food guide raised the point of ensuring that what you're picking is what you think you're picking. There are so many plant and fungi species that look like each other and some of the confusion species are super deadly. We might like to think that the fungi are the major problem, but there are a good number of plants which are in real "game over" territory; Water Dropwort and Deadly Nightshade (clue's in the name) are particularly nasty. Water Dropwort, and others like it, are the reason I don't teach most white flowered wild plants on courses, because they look too much like many of the edibles and there is far too much paperwork associated with people dying.

The Orachs, which were mentioned on the programme, are a prime example. With around 200 species in the Atriplex genus, there is a massive variety across most habitats. Many of them can be found on the coast and are very succulent compared to their field relatives. The edible orachs are very tasty and I imagine the others are too, but they can be very bad for you with effects ranging from an upset stomach to a trip to hospital, or worse. 

I must admit that I was super jealous of the Chanterelle on toast. I'm compelled to find somewhere local where they grow, but I will be making sure I don't get myself any of the bad ones that look alike. To ensure this is the case, I will be taking a book with me, as I advise you do for any foraging trip.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

First Aid again

I'm presently renewing my first aid course; yes, it's that time already? It's all very exciting stuff and always fun to see which protocols have changed, what we have to remember to forget and which way we're supposed to CPR this time. Is it one to fifteen, two to thirty, one hundred compressions per minute and do we sing Nelly the Elephant? It changes every time and this time is no exception. For us it's the rate, but something interesting has also changed with basic courses.

It would appear that in basic first aid courses, mouth to mouth is specifically no longer being taught. This is due to analysis showing a significant number of trained first aiders had stood by during medical emergencies because they did not want to perform mouth to mouth. With this in mind, it was deemed better to not teach it at all, because people would at least get on with the chest compressions and give the casualty a better than zero chance.

There are a couple of facts to remember about first aid. The first is that in the UK, there has never been a single piece of successful litigation against a first aider. Even when people mucked up and even if the casualty died, people tried their best and there was no case to be made. If you crack on with CPR and crack some ribs, and the person ends up breathing again, then do you really think they are going to sue you?

The second thing is that if you are a trained first aider, there is nothing that says you must perform first aid. If you come across a road traffic accident, there's blood and brains everywhere and it just makes you feel sick, then you don't have to dive in, gloveless and give mouth to mouth to people who might cough up their lungs over you. If all you can do is call the ambulance and give a decent account of what's going on, then you have helped every person there.

So, if you find me, unconscious, bleeding like mad and you can't remember how to put a dressing on, and if all you do is call an ambulance, maintain my airway and put direct pressure on my wound through the barrier of a crisp packet, I promise I won't sue you and I won't think any less of you for forgetting to check my capillary refill rate.