Burritos, Pig Rigs and the Easter Bunny
A random title you might think. But no, these have been part of my preparation… The steep learning curve continues.
In February I headed down to Bowral, south of Sydney, for a two day Remote First Aid course.
Having done my fair share of first aid courses over the years, I was expecting some of this to be a bit repetitive. Turned out to be a brilliant course that taught me heaps. It embedded and built on my existing first aid knowledge as well as teaching me a lot of valuable new skills.
Given the remoteness of where I’ll be, dialling 000 / 999 / 911 isn’t an option. Should something happen we need to be able to manage the patient for a longer period of time and most likely have to move them. This is where the burrito comes in. It’s a way of wrapping the patient up so you can keep them secure and warm and also makes it easier to move them.
We learnt how to traction femurs, prepare a patient to move them, manage snake bites, breaks, serious bleeds and much more. We did lots of scenarios to practice what we were learning. It was an intense, educational and very beneficial couple of days.
Saying that, it’s all well and good me being trained up, but that’s not going to help should I be the patient. I’m going to develop a set of ‘How to’ cards to deal with the key scenarios and a basic training session for everyone joining the trip, whether they have First Aid training or not. I want to make sure there is an agreed approach on how to deal with various situations. Because if something happens, we don't want to waste time debating what to do.
Next up was Swift Water Technician Training. If I thought the Remote First Aid training was intense, this was another level. It was incredibly physical. In a nutshell it was three days of swimming in rapids, rescuing people and being rescued. Let’s just say, my sinuses have never been cleaner!
It took place out at Penrith White Water stadium which was purpose built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Now they run white water rafting and kayaking training there as well as being a facility for elite athletes, who come from all over the world, to train there.
White water creates a bunch of possible scenarios – from being thrown into rapids, dealing with obstructions and getting yourself and gear trapped. When you’ve got a fast running river, you have an intense force thanks to the volume and speed of water that doesn’t let up and creates some potential challenges to deal with. For example, a foot gets trapped in some rocks underwater, chances are wriggling it free by moving against the force of the water isn’t an option. Or a boat gets wrapped around a big rock, you can’t simply tug it free.
We learnt what to avoid and what to do if worst case happens. It included how to swim in and out of rapids, throwing ropes to rescue swimmers, setting up ropes and pulley systems across the river. There were rescues with boats and other equipment and much more.
It also involved doing various knots with the ropes. Turns out tying knots is not a skill I possess. Far out, I’ve never felt quite so stupid. Didn’t help that most of the other people there were from the State Emergency Services or rafting guides, so were well practised.
And if I thought the knots were a challenge, the pulleys were something else. This was where the Pig Rig came into it. It’s a pulley system (or mechanical advantage as the describe it). If my life depended on it, I couldn’t put one together. Yet...a little bit of homework to be done.
It was a fun, exhausting, waterlogged three days. Again, I learnt masses.
THE EASTER BUNNY
Easter saw a drive up to Glenworth Valley, north of Sydney for four days learning how to survive in the wilderness. The team from the Australian Survival Instructors were amazing and imparted a tonne of knowledge with us wannabe Bear Grylls.
After being instructed to have snake bike bandages and a whistle on us at all times given the highly venomous brown snakes there, we were tasked with building our own shelters. Under my shelter, made of logs and branches, I just had my sleeping mat, sleeping bag (both thanks to Kathmandu) and mozzie net for my head. I learnt the hard way that you need to level out where your sleeping if you don’t want to spend the entire night slipping down your sleeping mat.
We made fires from scratch, no matches or lighters used. Brushed up on navigation skills that I haven’t used since doing Duke of Edinburgh at school. We were shown and practised fishing techniques, made a smoker and smoked some trout. We were had a restricted food intake – thank goodness for my sneaky stash of Cliff bars and protein bars!
Then there was the Easter Bunny and his friends. Let’s just say there were five rabbits at the start and none at the end…
We made water safe to drink using the sun and plastic bottles and learnt about signalling, survival priorities, hunting and trapping. Plus had a go at some primitive pottery, weapons making and archery. This was Bridgette Jones does archery, seriously. I got ridiculous bruises down my arm from pinging myself with the string bit. Even managed to punch myself in the face on the first attempt. All wildlife is safe – no chance I could hit a thing…
There was a great crew there and we had a lot of fun gaining valuable skills.
I was interviewed for the Shaw Show by Paul Shaw. We had a really interesting discussion about the trip, my fears and life goals all the way through to decisions not to have kids. It was a fab chat and Paul asked me thought provoking questions. He has some brilliant guests including a great friend of mine, Tara Lal. Do check his podcast out.
Following on from my last newsletter there have been some very generous personal donations, directly and through the Australian Sports Foundation, as well as some purchases from the gift registry. A huge thank you to Andre Dalton, Jim Poulos, Phil McFarlane, Gary Hancock and Mary Anne Croninfor your generosity.
There’s still a fair way to go. If there is any chance you can help out or suggest people to approach, I’d be eternally grateful. Here is a link to the various options to donate.
- Australian Sports Foundation - https://asf.org.au/athletes/sarah-davis/
- Gift Registry - http://thkfl.com/paddlethenile
- Direct Donation - https://www.paddlethenile.com/expedition-funding/
For any potential corporate sponsors I have an information pack - just let me know and I'll send it across.
MEET AND GREET
I’ve been fortunate to meet some amazing people over the last couple of months...here's the highlight reel.
Layne Beachley, one of my she-roes and someone I’ve always wanted to meet. She’s surfing's seven time World Champion and is regarded as the most successful female surfer in history.
Sir Chris Bonington CVO, CBE, DL is Britain’s best known mountaineer. His career has included nineteen expeditions to the Himalayas and four Everest summits. He led a number of first ascents including the south face of Annapurna and the south-west face of Everest – the hard way apparently (though not convinced there’s an easy way…). He was over here promoting his biography Ascent and documentary.
Stefano Cipressi is a former World Champion Italian slalom kayaker and Olympic slalom canoeist. He's also a sports psychologist and shared some really valuable strategies with me.
Cheryl Bart AO (below right) is a highly accomplished leader across the fields of business, economics, digital, and culture, and an adventurer and mountain climber. In 2008 with daughter Nikki, they made history becoming the first mother-daughter team to reach the summit of Mt Everest. They also by became the first mother-daughter duo to complete the Seven Summits, the highest peaks of every continent in the world. More recently they climbed Mt Sidley, Antarctica’s tallest volcano. Thanks Rozanne Green (left) for the introduction.
Todd Sampson is a Canadian-born Australian, an adventurer, award-winning documentary-maker, television presenter and businessman. He hosts a number of international documentaries including 'Redesign My Brain' and 'Bodyhack'. One reviewer described Todd as: “If Bear Grylls, Louis Theroux and Brian Cox had a love child together, it would be Todd Sampson.” You can understand why I was keen to meet him! It was fascinating to hear about the challenges and fears he's faced through the documentaries and how he overcame them. Todd has also climbed to the summit of Mount Everest. Legend.
In between all of this, I’ve been doing a bit of writing, which I really enjoy.
- An article for Intrepid on the use of risk management for dealing with fear. Intrepid is a new UK magazine for female adventures and outdoor sports enthusiasts
- Guest post for the Business of Adventure on branding my expedition. The Business of Adventure is a fantastic resource for ideas on funding adventures and has been incredibly useful
- 'Where's the Wiki', a piece for World Nomads on how I've gone about organising this expedition. World Nomads have commissioned a series of articles during the expedition. One of the best things is the title they've given me: 'Adventurer and Professional Badass' - love it!
World Nomads provide insurance for the independent and intrepid travelled. Big thanks to Talbot Henry for introducing me to the team there. On top of the articles, they've interviewed me for their podcast.
Oh and I have been paddling. Had my first race since World Championships. It was the Tingira Cup on Sydney Harbour. I was stoked to walk away with third overall out of the women, $50 prize money AND a lucky door prize of some paddling gear. Yeoowww!
Well that's it for this update. Time to sign out and get back to it.
Enjoy the rest of your week and I'll be back soon with more updates.
Sarah x x