Worth reading: Sea Scout, Scouts BSA member emphasizes the value of wilderness first aid

Kana, in front of the Maine State House, the state capitol. Photo courtesy of the Walsh family

Kana Walsh, a Sea Scout and Scouts BSA member, appreciates how first-aid skills are part of the BSA’s advancement programs.

At the same time, she argues, we should all consider doing more.

“Through preparations for outdoor trips and rank advancement requirements in the BSA, I had learned the basic principles and procedures for treating someone who is injured,” Kana wrote in a guest column for the Portland Press Herald. “But we did not tackle emergencies where a person would need to be able to save somebody who is in critical condition and more than two hours from a hospital.”

A WFA course prepares participants to identify and address medical issues that can arise in the backcountry that go beyond basic first aid.

If your goal is to Be Prepared, WFA is your answer.

“We learned how to treat and stabilize more acute injuries, such as scalp fractures, heat strokes and spinal injuries,” Kana writes. “Furthermore, we learned how to assess the scene of the accident, making sure that we were not putting ourselves in danger while trying to help someone else.”

Not just for the wilderness

WFA training includes relatively simple scenarios such as severe allergic reactions, heart attacks, heat-related illness, respiratory distress, snakebites and wounds that become infected; along with more complex scenarios such as altitude illness, deep wounds with severe bleeding, hypothermia and orthopedic injuries.

They are skills that can come in handy in both the backcountry and your own home.

“Through the training, we were able to play out scenarios and responses, learn how to build splints with objects that one would carry on a remote trail, demonstrate how to evaluate both the current injuries and potential hazards, and more,” Kana writes. “The WFA and CPR course unequivocally taught me so much about the importance of first aid, as well as how I can make the most difference in the case of a calamity.”

Kana is a First Class Scout with Troop 1 in Portland, Maine, and an Apprentice Sea Scout with Ship 243 in South Portland. Her passion for first aid comes both from her experiences in Scouts and the significant amount of volunteer work she does for the American Red Cross.

Kana is a Sea Scout and a member of Scouts BSA. Photo courtesy of the Walsh family

Making a difference through volunteerism

In her role as Youth Engagement Lead of the Red Cross’s Northern New England Region, she works with a team of Red Cross staffers and volunteers to educate and engage youth in all aspects of the Red Cross mission in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

She recently met with Tom Abello, a senior policy advisor in the Maine governor’s office, where she presented a series of recommendations that she feels could increase youth volunteerism across the state.

“First, I wanted the state to create more awareness about youth volunteering programs in schools,” she says. “Through awareness for youth volunteer programs, I argued that youth would be able to fulfill their high school service requirements, while simultaneously gaining life skill sets that would catapult them to successful careers in their futures.

“Second, I wanted the state to support and fund more youth preparedness programs in schools.”

For her volunteer work, Kana has earned a Congressional Award “for outstanding contributions to their community and undertaking the values of initiative, service and achievement.”

Kana says she wants to eventually become a certified wilderness first aid responder and a wilderness EMT.

About Aaron Derr 181 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.