Wilderness medicine expert Abigail Polsby will be a distinguished speaker at the first International Rafting Federation (IRF) World White Water Rafting Summit in Costa Rica from October 8 to 13, 2019. Polsby is the CFO and co-founder of Sierra Rescue International in California and directs the Sierra Rescue Wilderness Medical Program. She is an Instructor Trainer for Rescue 3 International and a certified American Canoe Association (ACA) Swiftwater Rescue Instructor. She will address the critical reasons why adventure travel outfitters should go beyond basic first aid and train their guides in wilderness first aid, as well as give practical steps for handling common injuries that happen in remote areas.
“When you’re out in the wilderness, you can’t always call 911 and just wait for help to arrive. You are the help. With a little bit of training and practice, you can actually do things to help someone who is injured,” said Polsby. “It is an adventure tourism company’s responsibility to take care of their clients. Guides need to know not only how to stabilize a person, but how to help treat the person and to get them out of the wilderness safely, and that is not taught in basic first-aid care,” Polsby added. “Clients expect that level of care and training now from their guides when they go on an adventure trip. It’s our responsibility as guides to know what to do when something happens.”
Adventure travel professionals from around the world will come together at the Summit to share best practices and build on safety foundations in the adventure travel and sports industries. Backed by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), the inaugural event will be held at the Costa Rica Convention Center and the renowned Pacuare River. Polsby’s wilderness medicine background spans 20 years of field experience as an international guide, outfitter and wilderness educator all over the globe. She is co-author of the Wilderness and Remote Access Field Guide, Wilderness Medical Workbook, River Rescue and Safety Field Guide, River Rescue Workbook, and the Stand-Up Paddleboard Guide to Safety, Technique and Equipment. She is an active emergency medical technician (EMT), a Steering Council member for Rescue 3 International, a Level 5 American Canoe Association (ACA) Safety and Rescue Instructor, and co-owner of Alaska whitewater rafting outfitter Arctic River Journeys.
Her diverse guiding and extreme adventure experience include river rafting, mountaineering, backpacking, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing. She was a lead instructor for Hurricane Island and Colorado Outward Bound Schools and has volunteered in search and rescue. Polsby, along with Summit organizers, encourages all types of adventure tourism outfitters and professionals to attend the event in Costa Rica to ensure a well-rounded sharing of experiences and knowledge throughout the adventure travel community.
“This Summit touches on all aspects of rafting and adventure tourism – guiding, outfitters, certifications, first aid, risk management, and environmental conservation,” she said. Julie Munger, who is Polsby’s partner in Sierra Rescue International and a world river rescue expert, will also be a speaker at the Summit on the latest in river rescue techniques and wilderness emergency management.
Additional workshops will discuss important topics such as the future of IRF Guide Training and Education (GTE); advances in raft guide certifications; environmental risks facing rivers; how
raft guides and adventure travel outfitters can transform their communities; rafting and world peace; dealing with drugs and alcohol among guides and clients; and, how to work with language barriers and engage in non-verbal communications.
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