wilderness-first-aid

Wilderness First Aid in The Balkans

Experiences and advice of Eldar Fazlagić, a member of the Mountain rescue service and a mountain & biking guide


Every day we read in the media about the lives of various public figures – politicians, actors, singers, etc. But we often forget about those “ordinary” humble people who inspire us with their passionate work and teach us so many things. My luck is that I often meet this kind of people. Today I’m writing about one guy, whose “obsession” with first aid and love for the mountains is charming, interesting and educational.

I talked with Eldar Fazlagić, a 35-year-old Bosnian guy, born and raised in Sarajevo, who’s from his childhood drawn into the world of wilderness and everything related with mountains – mountaineering, trail running, mountain biking and skiing.

We talked about his beginnings in the Mountain rescue service, how did he become a certified for the helicopter rescue missions and a mountain & biking guide in Green Visions travel agency. He also shared great advice about the wilderness first aid and how to be prepared for a hike in the Bosnian mountains.

Following Father’s Footsteps and Stepping Into the World of Wilderness First Aid

As a little boy, Eldar has always watched his father with admiration and pride, while he was preparing to go into the mountains to save the lives of injured mountaineers. Many times, he asked his father if he could go with him, and he often tried to fit in his big mountaineering pants.

His father was a member of the Mountain Rescue Service for many years. A hero. He participated in many rescues in the mountains and conveyed his love for the mountains and helping others on to his son.

For Eldar, his dad is his idol and he always wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a mountain rescuer. So, when he was 12 years old, despite the duration of the war in Sarajevo at that time, Eldar participated in alpinism training, which was intended for the special forces. At the age of 18 he became a member of the Mountain Rescue Service and afterward started his training for the mountain helicopter rescue missions, together with the army of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and later with members of EUFOR.

Before eight years Eldar joined Green Visions travel agency and became a biking & mountain guide. Since last summer, when I joined Green Visions I had a chance to go few times with him on the hiking trips. He takes his job seriously, always cautious, but he’s an interesting and funny guy. So, you can’t be bored.

Mountain Rescue Service in Bosnia and Herzegovina

He was involved in few rescuing missions on the Bosnian mountains. The latest one was on Treskavica – a mission of finding a guy who had strayed into a minefield. Luckily, it had a happy ending. The boy was found and rescued in a couple of hours.

In the former country of Yugoslavia, the Mountain rescue service of Sarajevo had best trained and organized rescuers. Members of others rescue station used to come to Sarajevo to train with our members. Due to this, it is no wonder that the Winter Olympics 1984 in Sarajevo was excellent secured by our rescuers, and the Mountain Rescue station of Sarajevo received a lot of praise at numerous competitions because of its excellent work.

But however today the situation is not so good. Mountain Rescue Service in Bosnia and Herzegovina is disunited. Only in Sarajevo, there are too many mountain rescue services. Therefore, they lose on efficiency and nobody has insight into the capabilities for the action of every mountain rescue service.

How to Prepare Yourself for a Hike in the Mountains?

Eldar talked about the accidents in the mountains and how to minimize the risk of injuries. How can we be best prepared for the trip into the wilderness, and what are the biggest mistakes that people make?

“The most important things are physical fitness, equipment, water, and food if you are hiker”, said Eldar. Many people go into the mountains without knowing the terrain of the area where they intend to walk. Therefore, the chances that a person will not have the right equipment are bigger. If we add an insufficient amount of water (what is usually the case) and food, the danger of injuries is enormous.

So, always be aware to bring more water than you think you will need.  Just in case, because you never know what can go wrong. That is especially important during this summer months!

Also, very important is, before you go into the mountains, to tell someone where you will go and when you’re planning to come back.

Very frequent accidents in nature are ankle injuries, caused by inappropriate footwear. During the summer, appropriate footwear and clothing are especially important because of the huge risk of snakebite.

If you are a hiker, cyclist, trail runner or outdoor enthusiast of any kind, you shouldn’t go into the wild without basic knowledge and ability to effectively address injury, illness or emergency.

Wilderness First Aid Kit

When it comes to the first-aid kit Eldar is totally “crazy” about it. He has few of them – for the town, mountains and traveling. He is always updated, thinking about new things that could help in treating injuries and how to improve his first-aid kit. This is one of the reasons why he impressed me. I think that some of the very important human characteristics are constant desire to learn and modesty. What is in my opinion especially crucial if you are a mountain guide. Those who think they know everything and are not careful, they are not suitable for this job and they will put in a danger not only themselves but also others.

Here is the list of Eldar’s first-aid kit for the wilderness and useful things he always carries in his backpack:

  • Bag for first aid
  • Instructions for giving first aid
  • Sterile gloves
  • 4x bandages (one elastic, 3 non- elastic in different sizes)
  • Sterile gauze pads 5X
    Triangle scarf 1x
  • Strapping
  • Adhesive cloth tape
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Cotton sticks
  • Lightstick
  • Lip balm
  • The cream for inflammation and pain (individually)
  • Painkillers (individual)
  • The card for ticks
  • Writing pad
  • Pencil
  • Bags for trash
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wilderness-first-aid-kit

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