Steve Farmer asks: would you know what to do if your loved one suffered a heart attack while you were on the road?


When you’re "on the wallaby", or even just dashing up the coast for a weekend away, medical help usually isn’t immediately available. The further you are from civilisation the longer it will take trained medical staff to reach you — which means the further away you are, the more dire the consequences could be from an accident or health problem.

And yet many RVers hit the road without so much as a basic first aid kit, let alone the knowledge of how to use one.

If your travelling companion (often a loved one) had a heart attack, would you know what to do? Could you perform lifesaving first aid at a traffic accident or treat a snake bite at a remote bush camp? If your child was stung by a potentially lethal box jellyfish, could you maximise their chances of survival?

First aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can save lives, both at home and on the road, and yet many people never bother to learn these skills. Others may have done a course or two through work or clubs "years ago", but haven’t undertaken a refresher recently.

But having such skills and equipment should be a part of being a responsible and self-sufficient RVer, especially for those heading into the backblocks far from civilisation.

While an RVer’s lifestyle might generally be pretty healthy, we subject ourselves to risks that stay-at-home folks may not. There’s increased likelihood of a traffic accident due to time spent on the road, the heart-stressing walks to lookouts and points of interest and the sprains and strains of hitching and unhitching, raising the roof or unloading the car topper to name just a few. It’s also a fact that if youth is a dim memory then the risks are further multiplied. And if you’re travelling with kids you’ll be acutely aware of your responsibility and desire to keep them safe.

So I’m sure you can understand the need for first aid kits and first aid knowledge. These days first aid kits of varying levels are available at caravanning or outdoors stores and specialist suppliers and should be considered an essential investment. You could also put your own kit together if you have the necessary knowledge, or customise a commercial one by adding such things as your medications or a couple of bottles of vinegar if you’re going near the water in tropical Australia during the box jellyfish season. By the way, it’s advisable to stay out of the sea if possible during the north’s warmer months.

The knowledge to use the first aid kit and render effective assistance is also essential and can be easily gained from a course offered by many nationally accredited training organisations. Costs are around $140 for a one-day first aid course and another $60 and three hours for the CPR course. Check your local paper or search on-line for course providers. Another wise investment is a good book on first aid.

YOUR SAY: Do you carry a first aid kit when on the road? Do you know how to use it? Have you had to use your kit and knowledge in an emergency? Share your story with us and inspire others to learn to save a life.