First aid on group walks

How to make sure you’re ready for the unexpected when you’re leading a group walk

Group walks take place every year, in every season, landscape and terrain. The majority of these walks will be incident free, but sometimes things can go wrong. One of your walkers might trip or start to feel unwell. In rare cases, you may be faced with a serious emergency.

Here are our top tips to make sure you’re prepared:

 

1. Have some first aid knowledge

It’s always a good idea to have a ‘first aider’ on walks, and we’d definitely recommend having one on any strenuous and technical graded walks. This doesn’t have to be the walk leader – it could be another member of the group. But, if you are leading walks, brushing up on your first aid skills is a great way to help you feel prepared and confident:

 

E-learning from the Ramblers

Ramblers has created an e-learning course on Preventing and Managing Incidents for its volunteer walk leaders which covers the most common incidents on our Ramblers group walks and Ramblers Wellbeing Walks, as well as some basic first aid awareness. You will hear real life examples of incidents that our walk leaders have experienced, as well as first aid kit tips. This is a great starting point for all walk leaders. Email volunteersupport@ramblers.zendesk.com to find out more.

 

Online advice

St John Ambulance have some great videos demonstrating first aid techniques on their YouTube channel. We recommend having a look at their First Aid for Outdoor Pursuits and Activities playlist for a whole range of videos treating injuries on a group walk, including heat exhaustion, sprains and fractures.

If you like to have information in your pocket when you are out on the go, you may like to download the St John Ambulance first aid app to your smartphone. It’s free to download and works offline too.

British Red Cross have lots of information on their website about how to deal with common emergency situations too.

 

Practical training courses

The organisations listed below provide good quality first aid training for walkers, whether you’re looking to cover the essentials or for something more in depth. The ones marked with an asterisk are particularly known for their experience in the outdoors.

Take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions at the end of this page to help you plan a local training session for your group.

training courses

 

2. Pack a first aid kit

You should carry a first aid kit on every walk, so you’re prepared if anyone is injured. While some walk leaders like to carry their own kit, other groups have shared kits which are restocked regularly and passed between walk leaders ahead of each walk.

The items you need to carry in your first aid kit depend on the type of walk you are on. But a basic first aid kit for walkers might include:

first aid kit

    Hear from two walk leaders about what they carry:

    John Spiers

    John Spiers

    Find out what items John carries in his first ad kit and other useful tips for leading walks.

    Karen Wang

    Karen Wang

    Karen discusses extra first aid items to carry as a walk leader and how to approach your role for a safe walk.

    You can find more tips on what to pack on our first aid kit tips.

     

    3. Give advice to walkers

    As well as carrying a first aid kit, you could also suggest to walkers to bring along a personal ‘ouch pouch’. This might contain painkillers, blister plasters or any personal medication they may need, such as antihistamines.

     

    4. Report incidents

    If you are part of a Ramblers Group Walk or Ramblers Wellbeing Walk, please let us know if there’s an accident or emergency on one of your walks by completing an incident form as soon as possible. Completed forms should be sent to incidents@ramblers.org.uk

     

    FAQs

    Do walk leaders need to have a first aid qualification?

    All walk leaders need to have the skills and confidence to lead walks that are safe, enjoyable and welcoming. As a Ramblers walk leader, you don’t need to have a qualification or certification to lead walks, but it’s important to have first aid awareness and skills appropriate to the types of walk you’re leading.

     

    How often should first aiders be trained?

    It’s best practice to renew your first aid training every 3 years, to keep your skills fresh and up to date.

     

    What should a first aid course cover?

    There are a lot of good courses out there which cover the essentials. These courses are about 3-4 hours in duration and cover things like:

    first aid course

    Advanced courses go into more depth or are tailored to first aid in an outdoor environment or on different terrains. These courses tend to be certified and are taught over two days and might be more appropriate if you enjoy challenging walks in remote locations.

     

    How should I choose a training provider?

    We have included a list of training providers above, and there are lots of other local providers that offer training too. Here are a few questions to ask before booking to help ensure you have a good training experience:

    • Is the trainer suitably qualified in first aid, and experienced in training other people?
    • Does the trainer understand the outdoor context of your group walks?
    • What reviews and feedback have the trainers got from other people?
    • Is the trainer affiliated to a larger organisation that can give some quality assurance?
    • Are their costs reasonable?
    • What is the refund or complaint policy, in case you are not happy with the training?
    • What’s your gut feeling? Do you trust the trainer and feel they can do a good job?
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    Essential kit for leading group walks

    The extra kit we recommended taking along when you’re leading a walk.

    Two walkers having a conversation whilst drinking out of flasks.

    Writing a walk listing

    Tips on how to write an interesting and informative listing to promote your walk.

    Walkers talking on a wide path with overhanging trees

    Resources for walk leaders

    The Ramblers approach to leading group walks – handbook, templates and guidance for walk leaders.