First Aid Basics

Getting injured in the outdoors when you are miles from a hospital is a serious topic. No one likes to think about getting hurt and many people avoid putting together a proper first-aid kit or taking the time to complete a training course in first-aid because of this. The possible medical conditions that can affect someone are numerous. Anything from a heart attack to splinters are all possible and must be prepared for whether you are on a hike in the woods, at work, an extended camping trip or in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

first aid basics
Having a good first aid kit is the best step to good outdoor survival

This is a daunting task to say the least when you think about how much equipment a modern hospital has in its inventory, but there are some items you can purchase that will help. With the high cost of medical supplies and the likelihood of what you will actually need, shop carefully and try to purchase items that can be used in as many different situations as possible.

Basic First Aid

The most important thing a person can do is to take a course in first-aid. The Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance all offer courses that cover a wide variety of situations. Purchasing a field guide to first-aid techniques that illustrate how to dress minor wounds, the Heimlich maneuver, or give CPR is a must for every home or backpack and is part of the outdoor survival basics.

Most wounds that happen in the woods are minor, such as slight cuts from knives or tools, fish hooks, splinters, scraped knees, insect stings, and sunburn are some of the most common. These injuries although minor, can lead to serious infection if not treated quickly. These little injuries can usually all be covered with the contents of a basic first-aid kit that can be purchased from your local drug store.

Basic kits should include items such as band-aids, gauze pads, antiseptic ointment, tweezers, and after-bite lotions. A lotion to soothe sunburn is another useful item to carry with you. An instant ice pack and an instant heat pack are good items to carry to help reduce swelling or warm an injured person.

If you are allergic to bee stings or nuts, be sure to pack an Epi-Pen just in case. A cough lozenge is useful to have on you should a cough or sore-throat start unexpectedly. Seasonal allergies can flare up when in the great outdoors, so if you are afflicted with this common ailment pack a couple tablets to help relieve your symptoms until you get home. Bring a few aspirins or other minor pain reliever such as Ibuprofin to help should a headache, backache, toothache, and even moderate sunburn start during a short outing.

Serious First Aid

If you are deep in the woods and things turn serious you have fewer options. The faster the response time to a medical situation the better the chances are for surviving the crisis. Examples of serious conditions that can happen in the outdoors are broken bones, burns, gunshots, snake bites, puncture or stab wounds, choking, head injuries, or heart attack and stroke. As most of these conditions require immediate treatment from a doctor you should establish communication with emergency services and prepare to move the patient to safety as quickly as possible.

Use caution when moving a person who has fallen or hit their head to ensure that they have not broken their neck, spine, or sustained other injuries which could be aggravated by moving them. Administer CPR or other treatments based on training from your first-aid course. In the event of a car or vehicle crash be prepared for life threatening injuries like the ones listed above. Injuries such as whiplash, concussions, and internal bleeding which could become more severe as time passes.

Some supplies which can be helpful in these more serious situations include large gauze pads, bandage rolls, steri-strips, surgical tape, towels, foil blankets, and Ziploc bags. Depending on your budget an automatic defibrillator, blood glucose monitor and backboard stretcher are useful tools to have. Always keep a cell phone charged, ready, and know how to use it should you have to call for help in an emergency.

Natural Disasters

During a natural disaster such as a flood, hurricane, forest-fire, or tornado injuries are highly possible and due to power outages or road closures could make it very difficult to obtain help. Be prepared to deal with a variety of injuries. Anything from cuts and lacerations from flying debris, to hypothermia from cold waters, disease from unpurified water, snake bites, even shock and hysteria are to be expected. Try to keep extra medications on hand should you have a condition that requires a daily dosage. Keep a wide variety of supplies accessible in a sealed and dry container.

emergency first aid basics
Natural disasters often create the urgent need for first aid

A go-bag of essential items including a first-aid kit, medications, passports, money, canned food for a few days, blanket, matches, fire starter and water purification tablets along with a metal container capable of boiling water are important to have packed and ready in most parts of the world should a disaster strike with little warning.

First Aid Course

Deal with all medical conditions as they come along. Stay calm and professional. People who have been injured (and their companions) can become impatient and enraged during the stress of a medical situation. By being prepared and showing you know what to do will help make the situation easier. Most smart phones now have apps available for free from the Red Cross or St. John’s ambulance that walk you through the proper steps of First Aid for a variety of situations. Taking a course by a reputable first aid proivider who can teach you CPR, rescue breathing and the Heimlich maneuver as well as how to bandage and immobilize wounds is the best way to train for the different situations which can happen anytime and anywhere. First-aid is an essential part of the outdoor survival basics and a topic for which you cannot be too prepared.

Copyright 2019 Mike Wilson