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.