Wilderness Medicine

In the context of emergencies, we should presume that the ambulance is hours from arriving, or "Can you even make that phone call?". This is a very real possibility when an injury occurs on a backcountry trail, and someone may well have to walk out to get help or the patient may have to be carried out.

Wilderness medicine also includes such matters as environmental injury from cold, heat, or high altitude, the effects of toxic plants and animals,
  Click for larger image  
It's one of the simulation
while I was attending
a Wilderness First Responder
class in Oct 2000
sun &  fire burns, laceration and broken bones. By necessity, wilderness medicine also includes the basics of rescue and transport in backcountry settings.

Obviously not all of us will take a widlerness first-aid class before we go into the backcountry. However I strongly recommend you to attend one. There are many providers such as St. John Ambulance, YMCA and Red Cross that run first aid classes year-round.

Most people will think that, "I have a first aid kit, I just have to bring it on the trip, and I'll be fine." Certainly you can stuff a top-notch boomproof first aid kit in your backpack, but ask yourself, "Do you know what is in there?" or "Do you know what this little tube is for?".


  Click for larger image  
Splinting every part of
the body, using limited
improvised camping
The importance of taking a first aid class is to familiarize yourself with different treatments for different injuries, so that you can do the right thing to help the injured person.

There are many treatments taught in a first aid class that do not require a first aid kit on your side. Another typical objective of a first aid class is to promote safety and to prevent injuries from happening in the first place.

  Click for larger image  
Monitoring patient while
waiting for transport.
Patient was put into a
hypothermia wrap
Besides taking classes or reading a first aid book, do some practices at home. Knowing how to use the tools correctly sometimes take much longer than you expect.

Once you feel comfortable about your own first aid skills, perhaps you can personalize your first aid kit, replenish your supplies, or even remove something you'll never use and add new stuff to it.

After all, it is always SAFETY first.

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