Managing risk and bushcraft tools

Managing risk and bushcraft tools


We are just back from a fantastic Adventure Camp and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

Everyone who came to the camp was required to sign a declaration confirming they understood that the activities we provide carry the risk of injury or death. Quite a sobering statement.

Accidents, as they say, happen but we can minimise the risks as much as possible by briefing, training and supervision.

If an incident does happen we must be prepared to deal with it. That involves having the appropriate kit and the people who know how to use it. In camp we use edged tools such as saws, axes and knives with the risk of amputation and arterial bleeds. We have fires and the risk of severe burns. We also have to deal with more common, less serious things like stings, stomach problems etc.

At camp we can have a suitcase sized first aid kit but when we go off to do tree climbing, water or climbing activities we need a considerably stripped down kit.

As part of my Wilderness First Responder training I learned how to improvise using the natural and artificial materials at hand to make dressings, splints, traction, stretchers etc. But I also need to carry a small first aid kit comprising only essential, environment proof items, ideally items which can be used for various applications. To earn a place in my kit the item must justify its inclusion. So when Whitby and co. sent me the Leatherman Raptor shears the reputation of Leatherman was not enough in itself to convince me it deserved inclusion in my kit. However it did not take long to see the potential. Medical shears are often not sturdy enough for my purposes (there is a pair in the base camp kit but until now I have relied on a good knife in the wilderness).

The Raptor has multiple functions so I will go through an example of what I might use each tool for. In a climbing situation there is always the risk of falls or being hit by falling rock. If there is a risk of spinal injury I would normally not move the injured person unless I needed to get them out of an area of imminent danger. To get to an injury therefore I would have to cut off harnesses (possibly helmet) and clothing. As well as the immensely sharp and powerful shears there is a strap cutter to do the job. The strap cutter locks in place. They would also be useful to cut off boots if necessary. The tool also has a ring cutter in case oedema prevents removal in any other way.

Most accidents actually happen in the vehicle taking people to the venue or we might be first on the scene of a traffic accident. The Raptor has a tool for smashing class and the strap cutter can be used for cutting seat belts.

While not of use in the wilderness, back at base or a vehicle, there is an oxygen wrench to turn on the valve of the oxygen cylinder. There is a ruler on one of the blades of the shears (useful for measuring wounds etc.).

The Raptor folds down and is held securely in its holster. It can also be secured in the open position. The holster can be worn in a vertical or horizontal position on a belt. It is also molle compatible so fits nicely on the webbing of my rucksack.

Check out one of the You Tube reviews or go to the Whitby and co website while you are there, those of you asking about bushcraft knives could look at the Helle knives or Whitby’s own brand sheath knives. If you can’t afford a really good knife like one of the Helle’s look out for a cheap Mora or Hultafors, the latter has some nice ones.

Stay safe.