Cebu City, Philippines — As when everyone has rekindled their love for the outdoors, I, too, had my own fair share of this feeling. It is not uncommon for me to venture into the wild together with some friends. Being a registered Nurse by profession, I have been exposed to almost all types of emergencies, be it in a hospital setting or in the wilderness.
It is heartbreaking to see friends or fellow hikers succumb to injuries while on the trail since I have also experienced it myself. I know how it feels when you cannot move to much due to pain because a foot or an ankle got sprained, or when you shoulders just decided to go numb after more than 6 hours of walking in the mountains. It is frustrating to be at a point where you can only do so much since you are limited physically and you need help from others. And yes, it is very disappointing when fellow hikers leave you without even taking a second glance at your sorry state since they can’t also do anything on it due to lack of knowledge and or fear.
Due to this, I made it a point to join and get learning from Basic Mountaineering Courses from MFPI (Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, Inc) as well us go #oneskillhigher by joining Wilderness First Aid Trainings at my own expense. I had already been exposed and trained on First Aid, as a matter of fact, I used to volunteer with Philippine Red Cross Cebu Chapter as an Ambulance Crew and one of its First Aid Instructors. I teach not just Occupational First Aid (Layman’s FA) but as well as Standard FA for medical and allied medical professionals alike. It is quiet frustrating to know that not everyone has access to healthcare. You see, in my place at Cebu, right on my own backyard, I still see people getting into accidents which could have been prevented should common sense and focus was practiced.
So, last January 12-13, 2019, I took the risk and signed up for Wilderness First Aid hosted by Cebu Outdoor Enthusiasts organized by Sir Ricky Petiluna, Doc Johnrey Sanchez, brothers from Camp Red Bushcraft and Guild (they are the ones who are responsible for our challenging campsite), StratOps Safety Solutions/CEVSAR (Cebu Volunteer Search and Rescue Unit headed by Sir Shio Cortes, whom I consider as my mentor in the outdoors and in the rescue field. Sir Shio has been instrumental for me to conquer my fears and hesitations in helping out so that others may live. It was a weekend of refreshing skills, getting out of my own comfort zone, being able to act quick and use clinical judgment while making sure my patient’s welfare is of top priority.
The activity was held in the ridge lines of the mountainous side of Sapangdaku, Guadalupe, known for its hectares of mango plantation. History will tell you that Guadalupe, Cebu used to be the main producer and exporter of fresh, ripe and sweet mangoes all over the archipelago, rivaling the ones exported and produced by Guimaras Island. It is a daunting topic, to be honest, and let’s leave it at that. Our campsite, dubbed as Camp Xi by my Camp Red Bushcraft and Guild brothers, are mix of subtle woodlands, open areas, and a not so short, sharp assault that will surely leave you breathless. Itinerary for this specific training won’t be placed here since each batch has different ones. As for our batch, we are fortunate that it was sunny all through out, and there is no need to run for cover should it rains.
The training was only limited to 30 participants, most of which came from Cebu and some neighboring towns and cities. Some are from the BPO industry, others are from the provincial disaster and risk management units, others are from local rescue groups and a small number are avid outdoor enthusiasts (that includes me, of course). In the span of two days, I am able to unplug and reconnect with people that matter, as well as proved myself worthy to be #carryingmyownweather in the wilderness.
So here are my top salient points that I gathered from that activity:
- Be humble enough to ASK and know your environment. Don’t be such an asshole and assume you know everything. Prepare for the weather, the type of campsite, type of shelter you are bringing (e.i hammock/tents, sleeping bag, pillow if you need one). Also, do not forget to bring your jacket/umbrella, and any wind and rain proofing. Don’t say I didn’t warned you.
- Bring only what is needed, leave other necessary things behind. But, do not leave your sanity, your brains and common sense at home. That’s a given.
- Cook and prepare your own provisions. You will never know when you will be needing to eat those. Also, it assures you of adequate nutrition while outdoors. Hydrate ever so often using your own water bottle but do not forget to share some of your water, too. Be kind enough to others. A little kindness goes a long way. It pays to be always self contained.
- It’s not even a question between LOAD AND GO or STAY AND PLAY, but a battle of wits, knowledge, skills and pure decision making. It was never even a question of what medical degree you have or what type of exposure you have for you to extend help and CARE. And most importantly, kahit gaano ka ka madiskarte at katalino, kung wala ka namang common sense, ISA KANG MALAKING PALPAK. Wala kang ibang masisisi kundi IKAW lang. (Even if you are having good initiative and knowledgeable on things, if you don’t practive common sense, you are still a FAILURE. You cannot blame anyone else but YOU, alone.)
- Be ready to get into the most unexpected circumstances when you are on the wild. Learn to listen to your comrades as well. They may have more experience more than you do. Be humble. Stay grounded.
- Learn from the best in the field. Unlearn what you have learned in the past. Train your mind to be like a sieve, retain what is only needed.
At the end of the day, your struggles might have been minimal to what the others had to endure just to learn. Yes, the terrain might be difficult to navigate, I almost gave up and threw my backpack since my back was hurting like crazy on the last 45 mins of the trek just before the assault, had multiple slips and trips and I even thought I can’t walk anymore due to the pain, but amid all of that, the yearning for learning and the passion to help out while in the outdoors topped all of those physiologic feeling. It also pays to be on an Alpha State of mind, where you ignore the petty nasty thoughts of giving up and just push on, whether your legs are under fire, whether you gasp for breath, whether you sweat tons and tons and drink like you haven’t drank for more than a day…all these are none compared to the satisfaction of this hard earned certificate and badge.
So be proud that you had to endure hardship and harsh elements outside, it defines who you are and what you aspire to become.