Over the summer Alex Pericleous and Caroline Hepburn went to deepest darkest Sussex for a two day wilderness first aid course. After initial chaos (including nearly having to spend Friday night in a bus shelter) we were picked up in a landrover and taken to where we were meant to be. The first aid course took place in a forested area where we set up camp and were warned that if the rain came we'd still be first-aiding.
We practiced various techniques for bandaging, splinting, and recovery-positioning on each other. We improvised stretchers and splints from logs, coats, ropes, roll mats and pieces of rucksack frame and Alex (perhaps foolishly) allowed himself to be tied in a sleeping bag to a stretcher in order to be "carried off the hill". The resusi-ann was duly given CPR and even attacked with a defibrillator but as usual nothing could be done to bring her round. We learnt the signs of and how to deal with hyper- and hypothermia. We dealt with spinal injuries and made cervical collars from roll mats and triangular bandages.
The main feature of the course other than the teaching were the scenarios. These were very realistic (fake blood included) and we were told at the beginning to do exactly what we would really do. It's a lot harder to cut through a pair of trousers than it looks. Our scenarios were 1) walking along and randomly seeing a man lying unconscious in a stream (hopefully shouldn't happen too often), and 2) a member of our group went for the midnight toilet break and fell down a gully.
Since we were camping on site we were shown how to light fires using sticks and bows, although I don't think any of us managed it, and we built a shelter made of sticks and leaves. Apparently people have spent the night in these things and they are quite warm, but you tend to wake up covered in slugs. No one volunteered to try out ours! The course was very practical and useful for situations where you may find yourself somewhere where an ambulance won't get there in five minutes (up a hill maybe). We were encouraged to improvise in the lack of proper equipment - although triangular bandages have seemingly infinite uses.