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Survival through Effective Preparedness


At 10pm, a man fell into a campfire sustaining serious burns to his body. The man was unconscious, had an extremely low blood pressure and was not breathing effectively. This occurred at a camp in a conservation concession in western Africa. The camp is located more than 17 hours by road from the nearest hospital and the local airstrips are not equipped to accommodate aircrafts landing at night.

The client has a pre-existing relationship with an incident management centre through their insurer. The incident management centre the client uses is familiar with the Africa SAFE-T methodology. However the client and the insurer were of the opinion that their medical capacity was not sufficient to handle medical incidents on site and they contacted Africa SAFE-T to perform a risk assessment of their camp prior to the incident.

The risk assessment identified limited availability of external resources as a major risk factor, and therefore recommended further first aid skills development and the procurement of more comprehensive medical kits. These recommendations were implemented effectively. They received wilderness first aid training and procured advanced medical kits which enabled them to handle complicated medical emergencies on site.


The camp staff contacted the incident management centre immediately after the incident occurred. The centre then connected the staff via teleconference with the on-duty doctor.

The patient was placed in the “shock position” to raise and maintain his blood pressure. The first aiders also assisted the patient’s ventilation using a Bag-Valve-Mask to raise and maintaining normal oxygen levels in the patient’s body.  The burn wounds were cleaned and dressed with special burn dressing to prevent the early development of infection. The camp staff successfully supported the patient throughout the night under the remote direction of the on-duty doctor.

Having access to the incident management centre meant the camp staff could focus fully on the treatment and support to the patient knowing that the logistics of the evacuation were being managed in a professional and effective manner. The on-duty doctor in the Incident Management Centre was able to gather all the necessary information to make decisions due to the staff on the ground having the correct skill set to monitor breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation. The doctor was therefore able to create an effective medical treatment plan for the patient, which was implemented by the camp staff.


A fully equipped air ambulance took off at dawn as arranged by the Incident Management Centre. The areo-medical staff  took over the care of the patient soon after and they evacuated the patient to Lanseria airport in South Africa. A ground ambulance crew was already awaiting the patient’s arrival at the airport in South Africa when the aircraft landed. The Incident Management Centre pre-arranged clearance through customs to avoid any delays in getting the patient to the treating hospital where a team of specialists and support staff were waiting for the patient to arrive.

The man survived the incident and has subsequently made a full recovery.

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