Our Man In Canada
March 12th, 2007

The Dawn of a New Season!
By Chris Chin, Bay Comeau, Quebec, Canada

We're slowly gearing up for the 2007 season. The fly bins are (slowly) getting filled. No new gear needs to be bought, so I'll be cleaning stuff and repairing and mending existing stock. The first pieces of equipment to get inventoried though are the first aid kits.

Huh? I get asked, "You have multiple first aid kits?"

Yup.

Actually, when I'm on the river, you can find me with three separate kits. Picture this:

You're on the dream vacation of a life time or just simply out with the family for a weekend off from the Rat Race. You're in a bit of a hurry. You let your friend sleep for another hour and you slip out of the cottage at day break to get in a few casts before breakfast. The excitement of the first day has you literally skipping your way down the well maintained trail to the beach.

Wearing your felt soled waders, you slide off of an exposed cedar root and take a spill. Plop!

Good, ...didn't break the rod and all the bones seem to be straight. You do however have a small two-inch cut on the back of your left hand because you turned your wrist in to protect the rod while you were falling. Ha! Didn't even spill the coffee from the Travel Mug.

Not too bad. Just some oozing blood and the cut appears to be fairly clean. There are no embedded foreign objects in the laceration. You pull the small first aid kit out of your vest pocket, clean the wound with some wipes, snug the edges of the laceration together with some Steri-Strips and cover the whole mess with a bandage. You police up the litter from the packaging and ten minutes later you're on the beach trying to spot some rises. You'll inspect the wound for signs of infection at noon when you change the dressing, for now, there's fishing to be done.

Of course, the scenario could play out much differently. You take the same spill, PANIC at the sight of your own blood, forget your rod on the trail as you scurry back up to the car. In the car you succeed in staining the seat cover as you drive back to the cottage and wake up our friend so that he can drive you back to town. Four hours later, you're back at camp wondering where your rod has gotten to.

So how does this all pull together to explain why I have at least three different first aid kits? Well, a first aid kit isn't really handy if it's not at hand. The smallest of "off the shelf" kits will be well enough stocked to handle 99% of the bumps and scrapes that we encounter in a season. I have some Band-Aids, tweezers, needles, alcohol-wipes etc. in a compact container in my vest.

I can't remember how many times we've removed splinters and such right in the run, ...not even taking (or needing) the time to return to the beach.

The second kit has the same stuff, but we added some of the more bulky items such as bandages, dressings and absorbent pads. This stays on the beach in the kit bag or in the canoe. This kit is used to improvise splints, treat bigger problems temporarily and stabilize for transport.

The last kit is stored in the truck. I cheat here, because this kit is actually a First Responder's Trauma Kit and I added more speed splints, more bandages and more blankets. Of course a well stocked first aid kit is pretty useless if one hasn't taken a few basic first aid courses.

A few years ago I was napping on a picnic table when a frantic stricken tourist ran up to ask for help. It seems that his child had tumbled down the embankment and had a nasty gash on one knee.

By the time I got to the scene of all the commotion and gloved up, his buddy had the first aid kit out of the Nissan AND WAS READING THE INSTRUCTIONS OUT LOUD TO THE CHILD!

Poor child was paralyzed with terror. It only took me about two minutes to reassure the kid then go about dressing his wound. It took another 30 minutes to calm down his Dad.

So go out and get ready for the 2007 season. Looking for an activity for your local club or Chapter? How about a few evenings of first aid courses?

You're looking for a winter or off season activity? ...try volunteering at the local sports arena as a first aid attendant (hey ...you get to see the hockey tournaments for free). Better, your child is getting their first aid badge from the Cubs, Scouts or whatever, ask if the parents want to take the course at the same time.

Drop by a pharmacy the next time you're on your way to the local fly shop. An "off the shelf" compact basic first aid kit will cost you less than a dozen flies. Mail order; a medium sized kit is less than a new fly line. Even a top of the line first responder's trauma kit costs less then a mid range fly rod! A first aid course is priceless.

Play hard and come home safe. ~ Christopher Chin - Bay Comeau, Quebec

About Chris:

Chris Chin is originally from Kamloops, British Columbia. He has been fly fishing on and off ever since he was 10 years old. Chris became serious about the sport within the last 10 years.

"I'm a forest engineer by day and part time guide on the Ste-Marguerite River here in central Quebec. I've been fishing this river for about 10 years now and started guiding about 5 years ago when the local guide's association sort of stopped functioning."

Chris guides mostly for sea run brook trout and about 30% of the time for Atlantic Salmon. "I often don't even charge service fees, as I'm more interested in promoting the river than making cash. I like to get new comers to realize that salmon fishing is REALLY for anyone who cares to try it. Tradition around here makes some of the old clan see Salmon fishing as a sport for the rich. Today our shore lunches are less on the cucumber sandwich side and more toward chicken pot pie and Jack Daniel's."

Chris is 42 years old as of this writing. He is of Chinese origin although his parents were born and raised in Jamaica. He has a girlfriend, Renée. "She and her 12 year old son Vincent started fly fishing with me in October 2002."

To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit Christopher's website http://pages.videotron.com/fcch/.

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