In the event of a party member becoming ill or injured, the leader’s responsibilities are not confined to the treatment of the injury or illness. The leader, or a delegated party member, will need to:
- take control of the situation
- ensure a safe environment for all party members
- perform a primary assessment to identify life-threatening problems which will require an immediate response
- perform a secondary assessment to assess the injury or illness and determine the level of seriousness, and any required treatment
- assess management options, which could range from minor, where treatment is given and the trip continues, to major, where patient evacuation or external medical assistance is required
- provide ongoing nursing care.
The leader’s responsibility for first aid and nursing care must continue until the party member has either fully recovered or has reached medical aid. This may appear to be a very onerous set of responsibilities, but the leader can delegate any or all of these to better qualified, or other willing and able, party members. It does, of course, remain the leader’s responsibility to ensure that these delegated tasks are carried out appropriately.