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Lemons in the Bush – a lesson in safety.

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I am typing this post with one hand. Its taking a lot longer than it should and really, is a right pain in the arse. I feel like a total numpty at the moment and it’s completely my own fault. This situation is a result of me ignoring a fairly obvious series of events leading up to an incident that could have so easily been avoided.

The analogy I am going to use for this, as I do for many health and safety issues at the moment, is lemons stacking up in a pokie machine; A series of small events occurring one after another that leads to a significant event – in this case, an accident.

“An accident, mishap, or, more archaically, misadventure, is an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance, often with lack of intention or necessity. It usually implies a generally negative outcome which may have been avoided or prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence.” – Wikipedia

Even the Wikipedia definition of ‘accident’ indicates that there is a avoidable lead up to the event. This article is my review on the series of events that led up to me nearly cutting off the end of my finger.

Lemon Number 1: Ignoring the weather

Well, ignoring is too hard of a word – I guess not fully appreciating might be a better term. Basically, it was going to be raining. This much was obvious reading the weather report and by looking out the window. It was going to be a rainy day, and we knew we were going into a hilly area, so it was likely going to be slippery. This really should have caused me to consider my next decision.

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Lemon Number 2: Inappropriate Footwear

I am going to get around to doing another article on footwear sometime soon – I essentially have 3 pairs of outdoors shoes. Heavy Meindl Boots, Heavy Asics Trail Runners and the shoes I decided to wear on the day – the Merrells.

I will admit it, I purchased the Merrells for totally superficial reasons – they look good. I kinda wanted something for the outdoors, they claimed to be excellent trail shoes, looked good, easy sell. The problem is, whenever I wear them out into the bush, I regret it. Every. Single. Time.

Yet I haven’t learnt. They are Gore Tex Lined Shoes – so the moment they get wet by say, walking through a stream in them, being Goretex lined, they hold water. My Asics, being mesh, would simply drain. Wet feet either way, but with the Merrells, I now have my feet in 2 buckets of water. Secondly, and more importantly, the moment they get wet, they lose all traction. Like, slipping while walking along a level path.

Yet, knowing this, I decided to wear them in the rain, while climbing muddy slopes. Can you hear the lemons rolling around into place yet?

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Lemon Number 3: Failure to follow knife safety basics

That’s my Svord Golok. Essentially a 28cm long razor that I can shave arm hairs off with. As a matter of pride, I keep my blades sharp as I can. This fellow is no exception. Not necessarily overkill for what I was doing, but a pair of secateurs would have sufficed. Not for me though, for I am a bushman and need the biggest baddest blade of doom that I can carry with me. I should have been carrying it in the sheath, but instead of taking the time (probably less than a minute), to correctly affix it to my belt, I decided to leave the sheath in the pack, and just carrying it in my hand.

So. To recap.

I am now climbing down slippery mud slopes, in slippery shoes that are full of water, with a large, razor sharp blade in my hand.

Guess what happened next?

cut

Open flap wound distal to the DIPJ. 60% of pad involved. Dorsum Intact. Potential fracture phalanges hand.

It happened so quickly that I don’t know exactly how it occurred but my best guess is that, after I slipped and dropped the Golok, I managed to just nip the very tip of the blade with my index finger.

The fact I still have a finger, is a minor miracle. The fact it was just the tip of my finger and not my palm, or my wrist for that matter, is also a minor miracle. As it is, I have gotten away with a fairly small, but not insignificant warning. Hopefully, I get all the sensation back into my finger. It’s my trigger finger.

It seems to be healing well. No infection, and because I think I ran my finger across the blade, the bone wasn’t included in the chop.

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I did a couple of things right. I guess.

That’s my glove above. A couple of mm of leather. I would hate to think what would have happened, if I didn’t have them on, and these days, as soon as I go bush bashing, I have them on. I know how important my hands are. Damaging them in the bush can suddenly become very serious. Grab a pile of cutty grass trying to steady yourself, and you will know about it. Ironically, I was considering cutting off the tip of this glove finger so I could also use them as shooting gloves. So. That’s sorted now.

Once I realised what I had done, before really thinking too much about it, I had my first aid kit in my lap, a wound dressing out, pressure applied, and had the bleeding stopped. I can honestly say, I just went on autopilot, and did what my training taught me. That’s why I always have a decent first aid kit on me in the bush, that’s why I suggest every single person out there should have their first aid certificate. Fixing ourselves up should be a basic requirement of having a human body. Much like owning a car, and knowing how to change the tyre.

I knew it was coming.

I think this is what pissed me off most about the whole situation. I knew it was stupid. I knew I should put the blade away while going down the slope. In fact, I believe the first thing I said to Alice when I looked at my finger cut open was ‘yep, I did it’. I saw the Lemons stacking up, but didn’t stop to remedy the situation. Lesson learnt? Well. I hope so. I image the scar is going to be a reminder for a little while. Hopefully I won’t need a recap in a couple of years.

All in all, it could have been a lot worse, so I am appreciative that I ‘got away’ so lightly.

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