Wilderness and Disaster First Aid and Medical Care

Wilderness and Disaster First Aid and Medical Care

There are many situations where you might need to receive or administer immediate first aid without the benefits of high-tech medicine. Learning basic first aid as well as CPR is a good idea for anyone old enough to take a class. You never know when these skills will come in handy, and in some cases, be lifesaving. Perhaps you are an avid camper and come across a fellow camper in the midst of a medical crisis—there are no doctors anywhere in the vicinity and you need to act fast. Or a tornado blew through your town and your neighbor is bleeding profusely from a wound sustained from broken window glass. Luckily, you knew how to perform CPR and how to stop bleeding and prevent shock, saving the life of that camper as well as your neighbor.

Preparing a Proper First Aid Kit

You might be a highly trained nurse, but if you don’t have proper first aid supplies on hand, it will be difficult to administer first aid effectively. Here is a list of basic items that you should pack in your camping first aid kit.

• Nitrile gloves to protect yourself and others from contaminants
• CPR mask and airway management supplies if you are trained in using them
• One-inch athletic tape, one roll per person per week for hiking/skiing/climbing trips
• Four to six gauze dressings of different sizes
• A dozen various sizes and styles of adhesive bandages
• Roller gauze that keeps the regular gauze in place without cutting off circulation
• Two to three waterproof/breathable wound dressings measuring 2 x 3 inches or larger
• A good pair of sharp, pointed tweezers for splinter removal
• A small magnifying glass for wound cleaning and splinter removal
• A 60cc syringe to clean wounds
• Trauma shears
• Moleskin, foam, and gel pads for blisters
• Three compression wraps for strained ankles or knees
• Two triangular bandages that have multiple functions
• Antacids and anti-diarrheal medications of your choice
• Non-drowsy antihistamines of your choice for allergic reactions
• Epinephrine injectors if you require them
• Topical antibiotic cream if you encounter poison ivy or have other allergic reactions
• Cayenne pepper (see the how to stop bleeding section)
• Sunscreen
• Insect repellant

Wilderness First Aid Tips

• Remain calm so you can provide the injured person with quiet and efficient first aid treatment.
• Keep the injured person warm and lying down and don’t move him or her until you assess the extent of the injuries.
• If the injured person is not breathing, start mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration right away.
• Stop any bleeding (see the how to stop bleeding section).
• Reassure the injured person and watch carefully for signs of shock.
• Check for cuts, fractures, breaks, and injuries to the head, neck or spine.
• Do not allow any bystanders to crowd around the injured person.
• Leave the person’s clothing on unless attending to wounds that requires removing it.
• If the injured patient cannot be brought to a proper medical facility, prepare a suitable area in which shelter, heat, and food can be provided.

What to Do for Shock

Shock often occurs after a severe injury or illness. Medical shock is considered a medical emergency and can lead to other conditions such as lack of oxygen in the body’s tissue, heart attack, or organ damage. It requires immediate treatment because symptoms can rapidly worsen. To control shock, try the following methods when treating injuries:

• Restore breathing using mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration.
• Stop bleeding (see the how to stop bleeding section).
• Treat breaks and fractures with temporary splints.
• If there are no head or chest injuries, place the injured person on his/her back with the head and chest lower than the legs to help blood circulate to his or her brain, heart, lungs, and other major organs.
• If there are severe head injuries, elevate the upper body.
• If there are chest injuries, elevate the injured side to assist the uninjured lung to continue functioning.
• If the injured person loses consciousness, place him or her in a face down position to prevent choking on blood, vomit, or his or her tongue.
• Keep the injured person warm and in a sheltered place, like a tent.

How to Stop Bleeding

• Use firm hand pressure, gauze, or a piece of a clean cotton t-shirt to stop blood flow. If possible, lift the wound above heart level and apply steady pressure for at least 10 minutes.
• Cayenne is a terrific addition to any first aid kit for backpackers and campers, and not only as a spice. Apply the powder directly to a cut or laceration and the bleeding should stop shortly thereafter.
• If bleeding still persists, use a tourniquet between the injury and the heart, but only in extreme situations as this can result in nerve damage and other long-term health issues.
• Once the bleeding is under control, wash the injured area with disinfectant and apply
wound dressing and gauze.

For ready-made emergency survival kits from Wise Food Storage, check out our selection here!

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