Mountain Guides and Safety Standards
On the mountain, our climbers are often far from hospitals, and thus it’s essential to have professional safety and wilderness first aid knowledge and experience at hand. Our safety protocols are based on the ‘Wilderness First Responder’ (WFR) standards for emergency wilderness care. Our comprehensive approach to mountain safety includes systems that combine professionally trained and certified guides PLUS modern safety equipment to proactively prevent disease and injury, and respond to all types of emergency situations with the highest level of training and care available. We have been trained and certified as WFR by a number of organizations, including WMI/NOLS, WMA, Aerie Backcountry Medicine, and Sentinel Outdoor Institute (SOI). We are currently certified by SOI. See: sentineloutdoorinstitute.com for details.
We provide more safety gear than any other outfitter on Kilimanjaro. We’re the only ones providing a hyperbaric chamber on every trek, and the only company supplying a fully rigid litter. We supply more emergency oxygen than any other outfitter, and have more AED devices than any institution (public or private) anywhere in Tanzania! On just about every item, we exceed all others in the provision of safety gear, communication devices and levels of emergency response. Every trek is guided by a guide team 100% comprised of WFR certified guides. This ensures that our entire guiding team is on the same page – trained and certified at the highest level, and there are no ‘weak links’.
Safety gear we provide on our Kili treks:
- Oxygen for emergency use – For groups of 2-6, two kits (360L medical oxygen bottles, each with a regulator & 2 nasal canula masks) are provided. For 7 or more climbers, we provide 3 full O2 kits.
- Hyperbaric Chamber – a portable altitude chamber, for emergency use, carried on every trek.
- AED (Automated External Defibrillator) – optional on most treks, but included on treks with a night in Crater Camp.
- Stretcher / Litter – A fully rigid steel-framed litter on each trek.
- First-aid / Trauma & medicine kit – fully stocked as per Wilderness First Responder guidelines, with medicine instructions. Two first-aid kits are carried for groups of 9 or more.
- Pulse-oximeter – The head guide checks, evaluates and documents these numbers daily at dinner time, for each climber.
- VHF handheld radios – Three VHF radios carried on each trek, for quick comms between head and assistant guides at the back and front of the group, and the camp manager. An extra battery accompanies each radio.
- Mobile phones – carried by all guides, for daily communications with our base in Arusha.
- Satellite phone – carried at all times by the head guide, for use in emergencies (in areas with limited or poor mobile network). An extra battery accompanies each satellite phone. This allows us to make comms immediately, no matter where we are, during an emergency.
- Medical equipment porter stays with the group at all times, to ensure that the safety gear is always nearby and ready to employ. We send a second medical equipment porter with every group, allowing us to split oxygen and other redundant emergency supplies.
- A comprehensive safety briefing is performed by the head guide before the trek, covering expectations, risks, safety gear and proactive safety.
- Climbing helmets – for all climbers and staff (on Western Breach only).
- Climbing rope (50M x 10mm dynamic) for head guide to use for setting hand lines (on Western Breach only).
- Ice axes – carried by all guides, for cutting steps in snow (on Western Breach only).
Scenario-based training is an integral part of the Wilderness First Responder certification process
* A safety briefing is performed by the head guide before each trek, as part of the comprehensive pre-trek briefing.
* Western-Breach Route specific guides are trained by an expert on mountaineering techniques, including the setting of handlines, route safety training, rockfall protocol training, and use of ice axes for cutting steps and self-arrest.