What Makes Forestry First Aid Different to Conventional First Aid at Work?

The Forestry Commission recommends those who work in Forestry attend training that includes additional topics relevant to the risks and nature or their work. These courses use the abbreviation +F after the main course title.

The Forestry Commission recommended topics include:

  • Severe bleeding (i.e. chainsaw injury)
  • Crush injury
  • Hypothermia
  • Lyme Disease

It must be noted that these topics are to be covered in addition to the standard content of Emergency First Aid curses.

If your First Aid Needs Assessment suggests more training beyond EFAW+F due to the remote nature of your work, we would recommend the 2-day Outdoor First Aid course.

This is a practical, basic course designed specifically for those who work in remote or higher hazard environments.

What Makes Forestry Aid Different to Conventional First Aid at Work?

Forestry operations – harvesting, mechanized ground preparation, planting, fencing, pesticides application, forest nursery activities, or similar tend to be high risk.  Due to the remote location, if there is an incident first aiders tend to be looking after the casualty for longer periods of time than in a urban environment. Further, some workers also work alone.

Most standard conventional first aid courses and emergency guidelines assume that people are working with a fairly immediate ambulance response times.  The forestry environment has employees working in remote areas with limited or no communication along with challenging access for the ambulance service, meaning first aiders often need to be able to look after casualties for a prolonged period of time.

The HSE has recognised the requirement for specialist Forestry First Aid training and are now recommending that all Forestry First Aid courses include training on trauma bandages such as Emergency Bandages, homeostatic clotting agents like Cellox and tourniquets. These are designed for care for casualties for the longer periods required.

Find out more about treating casualties in the outdoors in our video below:


First Aid Kits Need to Be Specific and Protective Equipment is Essential

A vehicle is usually home to a bulky first aid kit with lots of bandages and comfort kit, however a forester should have ready access to an immediate first aid kit at all ties when in the field. This emergency trauma kit may well consist of an Emergency (Israeli) bandage or a clotting bandage. These trauma dressings are a one bandage fits all product, designed to manage large volumes of blood.

See our blog on trauma bandages here for more information.

Hypothermia is a real danger. Having a plan and some equipment to stay warm is essential.

Forestry First Aid +F

Eye and facial injuries are common in forestry so using the correct personal protective equipment PPE is important. PPE refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection. These type of equipment can be life saving, so forestry workers must wear this equipment.

Emergency Planning is Critical

In remote situations where some forestry operations take place having an evacuation plan can make all the difference to casualties. We need to consider:

  • Where is the first aid equipment?
  • How far are we from a reasonable track or road?
  • Do we have mobile phone reception?
  • How can we evacuate a casualty for all areas of the working site?

Communication with emergency services is also essential.

If you can provide detailed information of the incident injuries, location, conditions on the ground, and best access to the site, the emergency services can help the casualties quicker.

Ideally, you should share a grid reference rather than a potentially large post code.

Postcodes equate to a building or venue and not an open space in the forest or a hillside. A grid reference gives us much more information about a location it helps the emergency services decide on the level of response and whether to deploy the conventional ambulance service or escalate it to Mountain Rescues Teams or helicopters.

However, it is not always possible to get a reliable phone signal. A mobile phone signal that is working one day might not be the next day due to several factors including the weather.

If you have pre-registered your phone you can try and text 999, to contact the emergency services. This has the advantage as sometimes when there is no mobile signal to make a phone call you can still send and receive text messages. You must pre register your phone to use this system.

Read our article about texting the emergency services here.

Satellite technology has advanced more in recent years and there are a number of personal locator beacons. Spot Messenger and Find Fast devices have been adopted by many workers but they only have one way communication, leaving people on the ground unsure if the message arrived and if help is on its way.

Update: We now offer +F First Aid Courses for Forestry

  • Over 12000 students – 95% rate us ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • In order to work on Forestry Commission, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Forestry, or Forest Service Northern Ireland sites, you must have an approved ‘+F’ first aid qualification.
  • We are the sole provider of first aid training for Forest Enterprise Scotland
  • Meet your legal requirements in just 1 day with our specialist course – learn more here. 

Questions? Our friendly team are always happy to help! Call us now on 0333 43330 731 or email.