What Doesn’t Work in Parks

Assistance doesn’t work in parks

Assistance call centres can help travelers in a foreign country who don’t know how to get help.  Camp staff are not in a foreign place and they know exactly who the local providers are.  What is helpful is detailed medical oversight for the hours you wait – but medical advice coming from claims centre staff you have no relationship with, who don’t understand the context, can’t be detailed enough to help – and if it was it would be dangerous, as likely to harm as help.

Evacuation doesn’t save you

Medical evacuation works in cities where time to scene targets are 8 minutes.  In remote parks time to scene can easily be longer than 8 hours.  In many places night and weather mean evacuation only occurs the following day.  That’s a long timeline.  Outcomes are often decided before evacuation ever occurs.  What’s more, evacuation doesn’t happen for non-critical cases, so layperson staff find themselves responsible for medical oversight in camps.

Policies don’t help in the park

Travel insurance has its place, but is misundertood by travelers.  It is not a medical system.  No insurance ever invests in building more services and capability.  Insurance pays for existing service providers.  The probem in parks is that there are no providers.  Parks need medical capability, not insurance.  Travel insurance helps when you’re in a hospital.  In fact most insurers expect people to get out of the park and into city-based services before they will help.

Courses don’t prepare people

First Aid courses like this were designed for the city where responders need to apply a bandage and provide comfort for ten minutes until the ambulance arrives.  They are not designed to get laypeople competent to handle serious problems, in wild environments, with no infrastructure, for hours.  In parks we need to use laypeople as part of the medical system itself, not a band aid.  This means registering them, ongoing training, supervision and governance.

All of these strategies can be useful.  All work in cities where sevices exist.  

None of them solve the medical risk in parks.