It is a nice sunny day outside on your hike. The breeze moves past you and the trees cool your hot body. The leaves rustle, crunching beneath your feet like chips in your mouth. Branches sway back and forth. The creek ambles along, making its steady pace alongside you. After taking a deep breath in, you breathe out. Uh oh! Your partner just collapsed on the ground in pain. What do you do? It is good you decided to read this article, 5 Wilderness First Aid Tips: Supplies, Classes, and Kits, or else you would have been up the creek with no paddle.
If this is your first time coming to this site or you want a refresher on the outdoors, then I suggest you check out another one my articles, Hiking Basics for Beginners. It will serve to provide you with information. No matter your skill level, it goes a long way to know how to handle yourself on a trail. Either way, let’s get started.
1. Build Your Own Wilderness First Aid Kit
While the outdoor store near you will offer a splendid wilderness first aid kit, it needs to be modified a bit to meet the needs of survival. They will just not put everything you need in your first aid kit, so that is why I recommend that you add the following items in addition to what you already find in the kit you get at the store.
Vinyl gloves are perfect for dealing with bodily fluids you just do not want to touch. It is better safe than sorry when it comes to the fluids you will find. Also, many people are allergic to latex, so these gloves will not be a hazard for anyone who reaches into your kit. With gloves, it is better to error on the side of too large rather than too small. Someone with small hands will always be able to fit into a larger gloves, but not the other way around.
Sam splints really are versatile. They can be used for just about any type of sprain or broken bone. If you want a high quality splint, then these are the way to go.
Elastic bandages work well on sprains, working to decrease swelling. In combination with a sam splint, they work well, keeping the splint in place.
Bandage scissors will likely already be in a store bought kit, but you need to make sure that you have it along with you. They can cut the sam splint or elastic bandages. If you are improvising with a t-shirt as a tourniquet, then some bandage scissors will cut down the shirt to the size you need.
Duct tape is a must have. In the wild, you will learn to prize versatility and duct tape is a splendid multi tool. That is what really sets it apart, versatility. Not only can you use it to patch the hole in your tent, but it can be used as a tourniquet. It’s waterproof. It’s sticky. And you can cut it with only your hands. When dealing with duct tape, realize that it is latex based, so a latex free option is good for someone who has an allergy.
Once you have picked up your store bought wilderness first aid kit and put in the extra items above, you should be all set to move onto the next part.
2. Know How to Administer Basic First Aid in 9 Easy Steps
Tragedy strikes when you least expect it, so you need to be prepared to deal with it. If you follow the steps below, then you should have a rudimentary understanding of what to do.
1. Remain calm and encourage your patient to focus on their breathing.
People make mistakes when they are frazzled. You need to take a deep breath and become level-headed in the face of danger. Stay calm like a EMT under pressure. One of the few things your patient will be able to do is to focus on their breath. It will go a long way in making a difference for them. If they can slow down and adjust their focus to their breath, it helps quite a bit.
2. Stay in place until you know the extent of their injuries.
Further injury happens from movement. Until you know what is going on with their body, it is best not to move. With that in mind, keep them warm and lying down. It will help to make the first aid process smoother when they are comfortable.
3. Stop any bleeding.
If blood is spurting out, then it needs to be brought to a halt. If it continues, it could lead to shock in your patient and they could pass out. Grab a tourniquet and wrap up the open wound.
4. If they are not breathing, start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
5. Give your patient reassurance.
I do not know about you. But if my doctor is panicking, then I am panicking. When my doctor is calm and focused, I feel a lot better. You should act the same way when treating a wound. It goes a long way ensuring the health of your patient, but be on the lookout for shock. Even a minor injury can really scare the bejeebus out of a patient, risking an increase in the damage done by even a small injury. Calm, soothing words go a long way.
6. Look for cuts, fractures, breaks and injuries to the head, neck or spine.
7. Keep the crowd away.
Crowds are a recipe for further injury. They can get in the way of doctors, slowing down their administration of further pain relief. If there is a crowd, it can heighten the shock of patients. No one wants to see a bunch of people around them when they are in a vulnerable position. It makes the person feel bad.
8. Unless necessary, keep the clothing on.
Unless you are a Bear Grylls type with little to no gear on you, then you probably need to keep your clothes on. Clothing should stay on as much as possible. If clothing gets in the way of wound treatment, then take it off, but you should be able to keep it on for the most part.
9. Be careful with patient movement.
Sudden movements can result in further injury. If you are not careful, you can reinjure a bad break. You only should move your patient if they are able to do so without further injuring themselves. If your patient cannot move, then provide them with shelter until help arrives. This will be your best bet.
3. Learn How to Stop a Wound from Bleeding
A scrapped knee or anything else that bleeds is common when on the trail. If you know how to treat this type of wound, then you can handle the basics.
First things first, you want to elevate the wounded area. Blood does not pump as well uphill. Gravity pushes it down, so you will get less blood to the affected area when the wound is elevated, shortening the time between when the bleeding started and when it stops. Elevation reduces blood loss.
Next, apply pressure. This forces the blood to flow back into its regular flows before the skin opened up. Cover the area with gauze or a clean cloth. Both will help to stem the bleeding. If the bleeding continues, apply pressure at the pulse point between the heart and injured area. If both of these fail you, then apply a tourniquet. It will slow the flow of blood between the wound and heart, helping to stop the bleeding. After the bleeding comes under control, apply disinfectant, dressing, and bandages. This will prevent infection and stop an external injury from becoming an internal one.
4. Improvisation, it’s Not Just for Actors
Back when I was at De Anza Community College and living in Los Gatos at home, I took improv classes at San Jose. It was a blast. I got up on stage and failed again and again. If something did not work, I would try something else until the scene reached a rhythm and it started to flow. I did not always know what I was doing, but I always tried my best to keep moving forward. The point of this story is to keep trying no matter what.
If you have duct tape with you, then it will serve a multitude of uses. If you have a t-shirt, you can turn that into a tourniquet. With some branches you find on the ground, you can make a splint. Be creative. These are just some examples of how to improvise your way out of a bad situation. You make the best of what you have. Just like a performance on stage, you make do with what is within your reach.
5. Find a Class Near You
It is one thing to read an article. It is another thing to practice wilderness first aid. A beginner class will show you all the nuances of the skill, teaching you how to make a splint and what to do to stop real time blood loss. You can read this article or you can get certified. You never know when disaster might strike. I recommend that you check out an REI near you. They offer splendid classes where you can get trained and maybe even save a life down the road.
Final Thoughts on the Outdoors for Now
This was a splendid article. In my research, I learned quite a lot and helped you by breaking down complex subjects into an easy to read format. Just because something bad can happen outdoors does not mean you should not get outside. Below you can find a link to AllTrails.com. If you are looking for adventure, then there is bound to be a trail near you where you can get started. With the knowledge of this article in hand, you should be all set to go. Are you ready for adventure?
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!