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Wilderness First Aid Training Helps Rescue Injured Hiker

The Abraham Path Initiative strives to play a supporting role to local stakeholders. By providing advice, as well as educational and logistical support, our hope is that locally-led efforts will help the path will grow to be an integral component of the region’s economic and cultural life. One way we accomplish this is by helping to develop a network of professional guides that can bring travelers to experience the Abraham Path in a safe and professional manner, providing everything from comprehensive certification through local universities to wilderness first aid training.

While first aid certification is the sort of thing one hopes to never have to use, it still always a huge relief to have those skills when the situation requires it. Therefore we are happy to hear about about a recent instance where the training we provided to local guides proved to be invaluable in the field. About a month ago, Ayman AbdAlKareem, who was one of the graduates of the first ever Jordanian WFA course, was leading a canyoneering trip in Wadi Hidan. While his group was having a short lunch break, he noticed that someone from another group was climbing up a cliff to jump into the water below. The fall was about 30 meters and despite a few people warning her not to, she took the leap.

Wadi Hidan

The pool and cliff where the accident occurred.

When she emerged after hitting the water, it was clear that she was having difficulty swimming and that something was wrong. Ayman immediately swam over to her and carefully brought her to the shore.

After assessing her and requesting her permission to provide medical treatment, he proceeded to coordinate an extraction from the canyon. They were in an inaccessible place, about two kilometers from the closest road. Furthermore, it turned out that she had broken her back which required extreme caution when moving here. Therefore the rescue operation relied on a lot of the unique training he received when he acquired his SOLO wilderness first aid certification.

After fashioning a stretcher out of ropes, sticks and life jackets, it took about three hours to stabilize her and get her up the trail to the awaiting ambulance. We are happy to report that although she required surgery to stabilize the break, she is expected to to make a full recovery.

Be sure to check out the photo album for the canyoneering trip, which is linked below – looks like they still managed to have a great time despite all the excitement!

Experience Jordan Trip Photos

First Ever Wilderness First Aid Training in Jordan

On October 16-18,  the Abraham Path Initiative offered the first ever Wilderness First Aid course in Jordan, organized in partnership with outdoor tour company Experience Jordan. This intensive training took place in Amman city with 13 participants, representing various local outdoor tour operators as well as freelancers. Most participants were from the Amman area and work as guides for various outdoor outfitters, leading hiking, climbing and other adventure tours throughout the country.

“The outdoor scene is exploding in Jordan. There are many groups going out every weekend, but the standards of safety so far have been ad hoc. There is a real need for more formal training for wilderness guides,” said Mark of Experience Jordan.

API instructors David Landis and Anna Dintaman were trained at the SOLO School of Wilderness Medicine, an API partner based in Conway, New Hampshire. The training began with extensive practice of assessment techniques, designed to assess whether a patient’s life is in danger, whether a spinal injury is suspected, and what appropriate steps of treatment should be taken. Other skills taught included safely lifting and moving patients.

The second day of the training focused on specific injuries and illnesses, including musculoskeletal, traumatic, environmental, and medical injuries and emergencies. Students excelled at improvised splints, which use typical gear and items from nature to immobilize suspected broken bones.  A local Red Cross trainer also led a session about CPR in Arabic.

“Unlike classic First Aid courses, you learn how to improvise with what you have on a normal day outdoors,” said participant Amjad Shahrour. The course culminated with a practice scenario in which participants responded to a patient with major injuries. Fake blood and bruise makeup helped to make the scene feel more real, as the students organized themselves to assess the patient, monitor vitals, treat injuries and improvise a stretcher to carry the patient to further care. Students also performed one-on-one test scenarios in order to receive their certification.

WFA Jordan

Proud recipients of SOLO WFA certification display their patches. Photo courtesy of Experience Jordan. 

API intends to continue supporting local partners in raising the standards of guide training and hopes to have the opportunity to train local trainers who can conduct future trainings.

Tourism in Their Own Back Yard

Rozana Association holds a hospitality training

By Anna Dintaman

Photos courtesy of Rozana Association and Konstantin Hoshana

“I get to host the first guests!” “ No, I get to host the first guests!”

A friendly argument broke out during a coffee break in a one-day hospitality training hosted at the Arraba Municipality in the northern West Bank. Thirty-eight women from local villages along the Abraham Path in the Jenin district gathered to learn about the Abraham Path/Masar Ibrahim, leadership skills, professionalism, food safety, and housekeeping.

Enthusiasm ran high as the women participated in lectures and discussions with the goal of preparing them to operate homestays for hikers on the Abraham Path/Masar Ibrahim. Trainer Malak el Masri encouraged participants to accentuate the positive and to view their home villages through the eyes of a tourist. Masar Ibrahim director George Rishmawi introduced the group to the highlights of the Abraham Path/Masar Ibrahim, and emphasized the way that the path connects the villages to each other as well as to world famous historical and cultural sites.

Upstairs, a group of 14 local men and women participated in a trekking guide-training workshop, with the topics of trails in Palestine, history, flora & fauna, and community based tourism. The goal of this training was to prepare local trekking guides to lead hikers through their villages and the surrounding landscapes.  Raed Saadeh, co-founder of the Rozana Association and the Network for Experiential Palestinian Tourism Organizations, presented about social tourism, including the Sufi trails in the Birzeit area. Dr. Walid Salim Basha of Jenin presented about the plants and animals of the Jenin area, with his love and appreciation of nature shining through in his energetic enthusiasm.

The participants from both trainings enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal together, prepared by the Arraba Women’s Association. In spite of the chilling wind, many meaningful conversations took place over the rice, meat, stuffed grape leaves, chickpeas, salads, and dark Arabic coffee cups. The setting of the training, in the beautifully restored 19th century palace of Abdil Hadi, added to the ambiance and excitement around tourism in rural Palestinian communities. From the roof of the historic building, a magnificent view extends, inspiring participants to notice the beauty and tourism potential in their own back yards.

Wilderness First Aid Training

By Anna Dintaman

Casual observers in the West Bank city of Beit Sahour may have recently been surprised to see a group of locals out in the hot sun carrying each other on tarps, bandaging fake wounds, using found materials to splint joints, and setting up improvised shelters. On September 6-8, 2013, the Abraham Path Initiative lead a Wilderness First Aid Training for Palestinian guides co-organized with local partners Masar Ibrahim, Siraj Center, PWLS, and Rozana. This 3-day course was the first of its kind in the Middle East, with 16 local guides and escorts from all over the West Bank receiving certification.

The SOLO School of Wilderness Medicine in Conway, New Hampshire generously sponsored the instructor training for instructors David Landis and Anna Dintaman. The course was held at the Palestinian Wildlife Society (PWLS) in Beit Sahour, and PWLS director Imad Atrash led a session on wildlife in Palestine. The topics of the course included patient assessment, environmental emergencies, traumatic injuries, medical emergencies, improvising materials, and moving patients. Participants practiced hands-on skills with a variety of scenarios from treating simple cuts, to splinting broken bones, to evacuating patients with suspected spinal injuries. The Palestine Red Crescent Society lead a CPR training in Arabic. An additional session about outdoor leadership was included in the program, with an emphasis on leadership styles, risk management, and decision-making skills.

Student responses were enthusiastic, and many requested more advanced training in the future. The Abraham Path Initiative feels great pride and satisfaction in contributing to the preparedness of local guides and improving the safety and piece of mind for hikers.