Before heading into the great outdoors, it’s probably wise to learn first aid. Too many people step into the forest or onto a boat with little to no first aid training. When medical assistance isn’t available, it’s especially important to know how to treat an injury. At the very least, you should be trained in CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, techniques for stopping bleeding and the art of splinting bone fractures, all of which will help you stabilize a victim long enough to keep them alive until emergency responders arrive.
Dealing with Broken Bones
Not knowing how to handle a bone fracture is a common way people make a bad situation worse. The most serious fracture is anything involving the head, neck or back, in which case all you should do is keep the victim still and stable until help arrives, even if it means half your party hikes out in search of help. Other mishandled fractures, like in an arm or leg, could easily sever one of the arteries that run parallel to those bones, a situation you do not want to deal with in the wilderness.
The idea behind splinting is that you secure and stabilize the victim enough to get them out of the wilderness and into the hands of a doctor safely and without causing permanent damage. Aside from an instance in which blood flow is being directly hampered, DO NOT attempt to set a bone.
Stopping life-threatening Bleeding with Quick Clot and Tourniquets
If you spend time on the water, hiking in the mountains or participate in potentially dangerous outdoor activities far from professional medical care, consider investing in a small quick clot and tourniquet kit. A Quick Clot patch held on a severe cut can stop severe bleeding even when an artery has been severed. When all else fails or a limb has been severed, and as an absolute LAST RESORT, you may need have to use a tourniquet.
The value of a tourniquet is still shrouded in debate to this day. This combination tourniquet + Quick Clot trauma kit costs $50 and offers one of the safest, most easily applied tourniquets on the market. Just be sure to learn how to correctly use such a device, because misuse can do more damage than good.
CPR Saves Many Lives Every Year
CPR saves just shy of 100,000 lives every year, but an additional 100,000 to 300,000 lives could have been saved if more people knew this valuable skill. Camping, boating and other outdoor adventures are great wholesome fun for the family, but these activities often take you far away from medical responders. We recommend taking a CPR class before taking your family or group of people out into the wilderness.
It is very important to keep your CPR knowledge up-to-date, because a lot has changed with CPR over the years and studies show those skills deteriorate as early as three months after training.
Learn the Heimlich Maneuver
Choking is the number four cause of accidental death in America. When a few swift knocks on the back fail to dislodge an item from someone’s throat, the Heimlich is your next best move. It is nearly impossible for emergency responders to get to a choking victim in time, as death and permanent brain damage can occur in a matter of minutes without oxygen. It’s estimated that the Heimlich maneuver has saved over 100,000 lives since the 1970s. This important skill is a must for anyone planning to venture out into nature and away from very immediate medical attention.
Medical Training vs. Wilderness First Aid Kits
Someone without training could do more harm than good when trying to make sense out of an emergency situation on the spot. A well-trained person without any first aid equipment will save more lives than someone with an extensive first aid kit and no training. When you have extensive first aid training, you don’t necessarily need a first aid kit for survival, because you will understand the concepts behind saving a life and be able to use various elements in the environment around you.
That said, the best case scenario is to have both first aid training and a great wilderness first aid kit!
Hope for the Best; Plan for the Worst
Trouble tends to happen when you least expect it. The most important part of wilderness first aid is to stabilize a victim long enough to get them medical attention from a trained professional, but that shouldn’t stop you from equipping yourself with enough knowledge to make that transition safe and conceivable. If you’re taking your family or a group of people into wilderness, consider CPR and other first aid training. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about first aid training courses being offered in your area.