Tag Archives: Mt. Guiting Guiting

Basic First Aid with the Philippine Red Cross

Have you ever taken a Red Cross class? Perhaps CPR or Basic First Aid or Lifeguarding.

The Red Cross takes its roots back to Geneva, Switzerland in 1863. Today there are Red Cross Societies in nearly every country worldwide (190 total) including the Philippine Red Cross!

For the Mountain Guides on Sibuyan Island in Romblon, Philippines, a visit from the Philippine Red Cross has been on their wish list for the past 10 years.

Climbing Mt. Guiting Guiting, Sibuyan Island, Romblon
Climbing Mt. Guiting Guiting, Sibuyan Island, Romblon

Last week, with support from the Romblon Provincial Government together with a US Peace Corps grant 36 mountain guides, porters and staff members joined a 4-day training session on Basic First Aid led by two Philippine Red Cross certified Instructors.

Philippine Red Cross instructors demonstrate proper technique for back boarding a patient.
Philippine Red Cross instructors demonstrate the proper technique for back boarding a patient.

If your fellow climber gets bit by a snake should you suck out the poison?!
No – “avoid any interference with the bite wound such as incising, rubbing, vigorous cleaning, massaging or applying herbs.” Instead, work to calm your patient and have them sit or lie down in a safe and comfortable position. This will slow the spread of any potential toxin throughout the person’s bloodstream. Seek medical care if the snake is thought to be venomous and determine the best mode of evacuation for your patient.

36 mountain guides practice CPR and rescue breathing on a partner
36 mountain guides practice CPR and rescue breathing on a partner

Our 36 mountain guides learned to respond to cardiac and airway emergencies. They each received a large white bandage easily foldable into a cravat for managing open wounds as well as bones, joints and muscle injuries. The guides borrowed Magdiwang’s municipal spine board for practice transporting patients with spinal injuries and also discussed how to improvise a hammock carry with large tree branches and a tent tarp if needed.

For their final test the participants were dispersed to response to a simulated mass emergency crisis: 6 victims scattered throughout the Natural Park with various injuries ranging from a broken ankle to a head wound and even not breathing with no pulse.

The tourist victims preparing to assume unconsciousness
The tourist victims preparing to assume unconsciousness

The 6 teams of responders were all successful in finding their patient, assessing scene safety, giving appropriate treatment, and evacuating their patient to office headquarters.

A total of 31 individuals passed the Red Cross final exam and received their certification. My biggest challenge during this course was holding onto participants. Despite a fully funded training most mountain guides have little money during this off season and several dropped out of the course so they could return home and work to feed their families. Others did their best to make do. The guides from San Fernando lacked funds for transportation and elected to walk 37km just to attend this event. Many participants would disappear into the forest during session breaks to gather honey which could be sold in town for money.

If you are planning to climb Mt. Guiting Guiting in 2017 or later, know that your mountain guide is looking out for you and has Basic First Aid knowledge to respond should an emergency arrive. And maybe give him an extra tip for making sure your safety is a priority.

We passed!!!
We passed!!! The newly certified First Aiders

If you are applying to be a Peace Corps Volunteer with an Aquaculture work assignment, you might still end up facilitating a medical training for Mountain Guides if you find a need. I decided to mix work with pleasure when I climbed Mt. Guiting Guiting mountain last year and am happy that one year later I was able to fulfill my promise and catalyze this training. Read about my 2015 Mt. Guiting Guiting climb.

Mt. Guiting Guiting

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May 28, 2015 we set out to conquer the most technical mountain climb in the Philippines: Mt. Guiting Guiting. We were a group of 7 including two wilderness first responders, a soccer player, one Filipino movie star, one volunteer ascending for the 2nd time, another volunteer whose extreme fear of heights had him wondering why he joined in the first place and our Filipino guide who wore only slip on sandals.

At the park trailhead unloading the tricycle of camping food and water purchased in town.
At the park trailhead unloading the tricycle of camping food and water purchased in town.
Packing!
Packing!
Our crew about to set off, 6am May 28.
Our crew about to set off, 6am May 28.
Our Filipino mountain guide, Raymond. He was stoked to get all of our empty water bottles after we finished the climb. Notice the footwear.
Our Filipino mountain guide, Raymond. He was stoked to get all of our empty water bottles after we finished the climb. Notice the footwear.

Mt. Guiting Guiting, which means “jagged” is a 2,058 meter ascent. The first day is spent climbing to Mayo’s Peak where you make camp and offload gear before the summit attempt on the following day. After summiting climbers return to Mayo’s Peak for a second night sleeping in the tent and finally descend back to the National Park Headquarters on day 3.

GuitingMap
Source: John Larkins and Pinoy Mountaineer

Day 1: Biggest challenge was carrying packs loaded with 7-8 liters of water per person, plus one ukulele, five pounds of rice, several cans of tuna, sardines, beans and meat adobo, one camping stove, two tents, rain gear, sleeping bags and pads, a change of clothes and lots of snacks.

From the top of Mayo's Peak at the end of Day One
From the top of Mayo’s Peak at the end of Day One

Day 2: With only 3-4 liters of water for the day, no tents or stove, and thus significantly lighter packs, Mt. Guiting Guiting, itself was the challenge of Day 2. Her sharp ridgeline dropped off into a canyon on either side as we traversed the knife’s edge.

Just leaving Mayo's Peak, we were headed along that ridge to the tallest peak in the distance and then just past because what you see in the photo is actually the Peak of Deception.
Just leaving Mayo’s Peak, we were headed along that ridge to the tallest peak in the distance and then just past because what you see in the photo is actually the Peak of Deception.
This was just the start of some technical climbing!
This was just the start of some really technical climbing!
Still headed up.
Still headed up.
Our crew at the summit and above the clouds!!
Our crew at the summit and above the clouds!!

Day 3: Hard earned elevation fell quickly away as we made our descent back to camp headquarters. The best part was crossing the river as we neared the finish. The cool, clear water was a necessary thirty-minute swimming break.

Sibuyan Island, the site of this mountain, is known as the "Galapagos of the Philippines" for its terrestrial diversity and numerous endemic species. Here's a pitcher plant we found. Don't drink from it, I tried.
Sibuyan Island, the site of this mountain, is known as the “Galapagos of the Philippines” for its terrestrial diversity and numerous endemic species. Here’s a pitcher plant we found. Don’t drink from it, I tried.
Stickbugs were a much more exciting find than the wormlike leeches that attacked us during our Day One lunch stop. They would latch on and leave an itchy bump once you pulled them off.
Stickbugs were a much more exciting find than the wormlike leeches that attacked us during our Day One lunch stop. They would latch on and leave an itchy bump once you pulled them off.
Victory!!!
Victory!!!

Supervisor’s Conference

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Within Romblon, I will be living on the largest island, Tablas, in the municipality of Odiongan, which serves as the island’s commercial entry port. Odiongan is a 1st class municipality and home to 43,676 people. The name “Odiongan” comes from the local term for arrow, “odiong” because legend has it that the first inhabitants found an arrow stuck in a tree here upon arrival and thus named the site, “Inodiongan” meaning “struck by an arrow,” which was later shortened to “Odiongan” as it is known today. I will be living in the town proper only a short walk from my office.

I recently met one of my supervisors Ma’am Rita, who works as an aquaculturist for the Provincial Government. Currently, we are working together for training sessions, which will set the groundwork for a successful two years. We have 17 municipalities to manage and I will likely visit each of them, including the sites of other Peace Corps volunteers, with whom I may collaborate with for projects.

Romblon is famous for its “Blue Hole” dive inside an old volcano. Divers can descend the vertical chimney into a series of caves and explore corals, other invertebrates like shrimps and lobster as well as schools of fish which live throughout the site. Sharks, manta rays, stonefish and sea snakes have also been sighted passing through.

Here is a video I found of the dive! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqqZe4kbQ2Y

A short boat ride from my island of Tablas is Sibuyan Island, known as “The Galapagos of Asia” for its terrestrial diversity including 700 plant species and 131 species of birds. Furthermore, Mt. Guiting Guiting (2050m) and neighboring Mayo’s Peak (1530m) are already on my list of future adventures.

Tomorrow I swear in at the US Embassy as an official Peace Corps Volunteer!!! And then 4am departure for Romblon the next day!