Austere First Aid Training Camp

1-3 October 2021

By Wayne Appleby


After a period of forced inactivity due to COVID lockdowns, members of 4×4 Relief Malaysia heartily descended upon Datuk Wong’s beautiful campsite, near KKB for a weekend of training exercises, focused on Austere First Aid and disaster relief.

Austere First Aid training is essentially extended care first aid, provided in a low resource environment where access to difinitive care may be severely delayed, or completely inaccessible – and is an excellent set of skills & knowledge for the 4×4 Relief team to have for their missions, locally, interstate and even overseas.

The plan was for all of us to arrive on the Friday, between midday and seven in the evening. As always, members were keen to arrive early and claim the best camp sites. On arrival, members were directed to a camp location by Timmy, depening on their chosen form of camp. I was lucky enough to get a spot atop the hill with river views and a cooler evening breeze, where I setup my BJ40 and the rooftop tent. There were others with rooftop campers, a campervan, open tarps & stretcher camps spread out over the area. Datuk Wong and his team had done a great job expanding the camp, new facilities, excellent kitchen/eating area and more.

On arrival, all members were given an Antigen test, to ensure we were Covid Safe.


Friday evening, after a lovely meal prepared by Jeremy, we were treated to a slide show by Tango (aka Thomas Foo), showing some of the missions various team members had been a part of throughout Malaysia, Nepal, Aceh and other locations – where 4×4 Relief in tandem with other organisations and NGOs had helped – Thomas was very excited & passionate about sharing his experiences and was still showing us slides and sharing stories at 11:30 pm. This was great to put into perspective the type of work, skills and equipment we would need for future aid missions – as well as the planned training on austere first aid.


Early start – some exercises as a team – and a roll-call.

On Saturday, our Training Director and Chief Whip had a busy day of lectures, knowledge sharing, demonstrations and a HUGE list of acronyms to learn…..

  • Introduction to Low Resource Environment
  • Emergency Response
  • Legal Considerations
  • The Physiology of Staying Alive
  • Patient Assessment
  • Basic Life Support – CPR/PPV
  • Critical Systems – Circulatory, Respiratory, Nervous

We also had the opportunity to do some practice sessions, with a CPR manikin and AED trainer, and simulations of common events/situations that we may come across. Based on the learnings we started to understand the steps, skills and actions needed to safely assess the situation, evaluate & assess the patient, identify & diagnose critical elements.

After a yummy lunch, we learned more about the Secondary Assessment and did a few more simulations, before adjourning for the day, for a swim in the river – and then dinner (thanks again Jeremy), some drinks & socialising – after which Tango (aka Thomas Foo) continued with some more slides and mission preparation information. Some were pretty tired, and went to bed a bit before this was finished…and a few others stayed up to chat, drink and enjoy the social atmosphere outside in our campsite…..i think well past midnight.


As early as 7:00 am we all met for breakfast & some exercises and roll call.

Our chief Whip had more exercises & simulations planned for us, as well as a quiz and a simulated mass casualty incident.

The mass casualty incident simulated a scenario where a 4×4 had accidentally piled into a group of hikers, and then crashed leaving some passegers & hikers with severe injuries or worse.

We were divided into three teams: rescue, medical and relief aid. The task was for the rescuers to assess the scene, mitigate any dangers and extricate patients for the medical team to assess, effectively identifying which were critical and needed immediate evacuation or could be treated and helped to safety via vehicle or other means, less urgently.

The relief team were there to support, taking care of the needs of bystanders, the walking wounded, as well as the medical and rescue teams.

It was quite exciting and well done, with make-up, fake blood, real bandages, stretcher, spine-board and actual 4x4s evacuating the critical patients.

The incident commander, rescue team lead and medical team lead and their respective teams did a GREAT job.

Everyone was wearing hi-vis, helmets and following the learnings from Damien. A great learning experience for all of us – and skills we can use in the real world as individuals or as a team, locally, interstate or even internationally.

Personally, I’d like to go back and learn even more……maybe the longer course! Now 4×4 Relief have ~31 members trained in the essentials of Austere medicine and we will be more prepared to help in future missions. After a bit of a review and some quiz questions, Damien awarded each attendee a certificate and a badge, confirming our graduation from Austere Medical Training on behalf of X3SI.

Soon after this, and some goodbyes, many started to pack-up, break camp and head home….

A GREAT weekend – good to catch up with friends – and make new friends.

On On On….Stay tuned for the next Mission and another update.

Thank you to all who made the weekend possible, not least of which:

  • Datuk Wong for hosting at his lovely camp site
  • Damien and X3SI for sponsoring and delivering the training
  • Timmy for all the hard work preparing the campsite
  • Jeremy, for feeding us! Amazing as always.
  • Bee for the back coordination that makes much of what we do possible
  • Eddie for being the official photographer of the weekend
  • Wayne for preparing this report
  • And of course all members for giving their time to work with 4×4 Relief