wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

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catspa
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wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by catspa » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:38 am

Worth discussing at all? Talking with another member about the fact that in our attempts to go light, we might leave at home a thing or two that we regret later on. I've got a little pocket first aid kit that's good for minor cuts and scrapes, but it doesn't have what I'd need to address bigger injuries. Is that a big deal, I mean what is there out in the wilderness that could hurt you anyway...??

Parker

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ConnieD
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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by ConnieD » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:41 am

Blisters are quite common. It is better to wear hiking footwear around town, for break-in. I have Moleskin and tiny folding sissors to cut the right-size hole so the Moleskin surrounds the blister, also to trim the corners to a curved shape.

Burns of fingers and hands are next, in frequency of injuries. It happens while "fooling around" with the fire, the stove or the cookware, forgetting to protect hands and fingers. I have Xeroform burn bandages in finger-size and hand size to be stretched a bit from the edges so it is applied with no wrinkles, I add to my Adventure Medical Kit .5

Xeroform is also excellent for abrasions and "road rash".

I think sting-relief is a helpful product, as is something for poisen ivy or poisen oak.

I carry small butterfly bandages for wound closure, but I am not afraid to look inside the wound before the fluids start. It is important to be able to tell the ER the condition of muscle sheaths, fascia on bone, and stuff like that. They may believe you, preventing having to open the wound AGAIN. If so, they just soak it.

Several small butterfly bandages can hold you together until you can get to the ER for stitches.

I have used butterfly bandages, once, in 50 years.

I think a small container of 3% USP Hydrogen Peroxide is excellent for a wound.

I have Aspirin, Extra Strength Excedrin, and Tylenol for people, if needed. I don't use either one.

There are people who carry a digestive, or Pepto Bismol, I have never needed.

If you have small children, it is a good idea to have a pediatrician or a family practice MD help you outfit your 1st Aid kit if you will be far from an ER. Far, is how easy is it to walk back out to get help you need.

If you have a medicine you need, take it. Eye drops, whatever.

There are backpackers who carry a CPR mask and gloves.

There are backpackers who carry a safety belt cutter for pack straps: I remove the waistbelt and loosen the shoulder straps for stream crossings or a difficult traverse. I would rather throw off the pack, keeping only my waistpack that has my essentials.

The wilderness has big injuries, usually avoided by "common sense" and respect for the environment.

If you break a bone, it is possible to cut strips of clothing to bind the limb to a stick. If you sprain an ankle, don't count on walking out. I carry an air-cast and a sports ankle brace and a chemical cold pack, for others, if I am hiking with a group. (A good reason for solo hiking.) I no longer carry arm slings or ace bandages. I used to do all that, and more. In any event, assistance is needed.

Those injuries are, in my experience, from heedless stupidity known as "showing off".

In the wilderness, far from an ER, those injuries are A BIG DEAL.

If you are in the wilderness, SPOT, or another approved PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) is a good thing for real emergencies. If in cell phone reach, a cell phone can help. I know people who have a satellite phone, when they go out in the wilderness.

That could be considered part of "wilderness safety".

Three shots from a gun is a SOS signal. Three whistle blasts.

In some places a gun is acceptable.

In others a whistle: many 1st Aid kits have a loud whistle.

I have the loudest whistle, never to be used indoors, because it can damage hearing. Loud is better, outdoors and over long distances.

All that said, I have a few small butterfly bandages, a knuckle bandage, a fingertip bandage, and Extra Strength Excedrin, plus Xeroform finger-length and hand-size bandages, Sting Relief, and 3% USP Hydrogen Peroxide in addition to my Adventure Medical Kit .5 and Storm whistle.

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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by realityguy » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:24 am

Sounds like you are more prepared than most people I've run into,Connie... ;)..and maintaining a reasonable lightweight FAK to boot!..
The views and opinions expressed by this person are his own and not the general consensus of others on this website.Realityguy

catspa
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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by catspa » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:17 am

Well, I have to apologize for being kinda facetious when I said "what can hurt you out there". I know that nature is big and humans are small. I stress to my hunter safety students that wilderness survival is like a game of chance, a guessing game, and it starts before you even leave your house.

Ordinarily, we survive on the results of other people's work. Your house - somebody else built it, installed the doors and the roof that keeps the snow off your family and your stuff. Your food, somebody else grew and harvested and packaged it so you could buy and eat it. Your water - somebody else filtered it and piped it to your kitchen sink or toilet. All those things come pretty easy at home, but in the wilderness we have to bring our own.

So we start out by guessing what it's going to be like out there, and start building skills and packing stuff to bring to deal with the conditions. The way we win at wilderness survival is by surviving, and then we come home and tell our friends all about it, and get really excited to go out and play again.If you choose poorly, and your skills and stuff aren't up to the wilderness conditions, then nature can overcome you. You get weaker and weaker and perish, and then it's game over. Another player gets your stuff, and the game starts again.

Sometimes players cheat and call for help. If you call for help in this county, me and my search and rescue buds will roll out of bed, get dressed, and come try to help you. Sometimes we find you in time. We've got good skills and stuff, and we'll try to solve your problem and get you back to civilization so you can play again, hopefully better next time.

But sometimes cheating doesn't work. We can't fly, and we don't have x-ray vision. Sometimes we can't find you, or nature has damaged you too badly to recover. Then we bring back your lifeless carcass, lay it gently on the ground, and all your friends stand around it in a big circle. They're sad because you didn't make it, and we're sad too because we don't like to lose. Then another player gets your stuff, and the game starts again.

I ask my students to memorize the basic needs of human survival:

Air
Water
Shelter
Heat
Intake of food
Transport

There are some things you can do to improve your chances of winning, for example Connie's approach to first aid preparations. Having the stuff you need is one part, having the skills to use your stuff to solve your problems is the other.

I have friends who say "If I carried it on 3 trips and didn't use it, I'm leaving it home next time." But I've retrieved the remains of people who left too much at home and didn't have what they really, really needed at the moment of truth. That's made me kind of a "take it all, including the kitchen sink" kinda guy. I justify it by saying that I have to care for a patient's needs too, not just my own. And I feel like if I wanted to carry a pound less, maybe I should just burn off a pound of fat instead of leaving a pound of first aid kit home.

Sometimes it seems like nobody expects trouble enough to prepare for it except us pessimists...

Parker

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ConnieD
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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by ConnieD » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:39 pm

I went into the wilderness with my parents as a family outing: people did that.

Many old-time photographs show family outings and the gear was heavy by any standard.

I am not that old.

Our family outings were dad's two weeks vacation from his job in the city. But we were not "city-people". Dad had worked on a road crew with his older brother, who was a road crew boss. Dad became the camp cook. Dad was born in Oregon. Mom was born in Montana. They both enjoyed the outdoors and had many happy memories camping.

There love of the outdoors, fly-fishing, camping, making wild elderberry jam in camp, was my introduction to it all. By highschool, dad had died, so a teacher sponsored me into the college mountaineering program. I loved it.

I learned from my parents, from the man who taught Jim Whittaker (at the college program) and from my becomming a co-founder of Outdoor Program at Western Washington State College. Our program was different from the original Outdoor Program, in Portland. We used our funding from the college to purchase the basic items we need for loan, by leaving a Student Card, and only for our sign-up sheet trips. The trip leader had to have been there before and be willing to shepherd 10-12 other students. The public could not participate. No girlfriends or boyfriends. It was a learning experience, a part of the college experience. It was up to the trip-leader with the approval of the co-founders and full-time members of the Outdoor Program club, a college sanctioned program, made the trip sign-up sheet. The trip sign-up sheets had the difficulty level, the minimum equipment from the "Equipment Room" or your own that was approved, and requires equipment and food and water you had to bring. Day-trips, less. Overnight, more. Weekend, more. The school break between quarters, more.

These were "outings". It was never about fear.

I like the analysis of most of what you have it provided by others. It is often true.

I guess my "independence" to think for myself and my "willingness" to work with others is from the early experiences I describe. I want to build my own house, as owner-contractor, and elicit the help of friends who are skilled, and pay them what the contractor pays them. In effect, I have an "opposite" view of how the world works, as well as, what the "wilderness" is.

The wilderness is a natural environment. In it, we are "MacGyver's" using very little to manage very well in any contingency.

I told a Park Ranger, we are part of nature too. People cut dead trees for firewood, so the beetles were burned up. You have a "study" leaving nature to take it's course, excluding yourself from the process. Recently, people had permits to cut firewood. You stopped that, claiming you know what is natural. You do not. He said, explain, then, why these beetles are in this species tree? and only in the Park? They only attack another species tree elsewhere. I said, did you have the other species? Yes, he said. I said, What happened to it? He said, the bettles ate all of them. I said, Maybe this species of tree is their second-most favorite food. I had no doubt he "shook it off" and they continued their inane stupidity, as well as, arrogance.

He obviously thought I was a "tree hugger". In my point of view, he was a "city-man" living in walled-cities, terrified of monsters outside the walls. But mankind did not always live in cities. For more millenia, mankind lived in the wilderness in temporary huts and in tents.

I had been to college, in Industrial Technology. I had been in two Bachelor of Science programs.

I thought he was an ignorant and arrogant, man.

As for my 1st aid kit, I have carried more. However, by experience, I learned what people need.

I take what I need, that if I didn't have, the outing would be ruined: I would have to hike out to get help.

I would have ruined my "good time" and the time and expense of making the trip.

In my point of view, I take what I need.

I feel "the wilderness experience" is to find out what you need. It is not about what you think you need.

It is not about fear.

catspa
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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by catspa » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:07 pm

Connie, what a cool story. You're right, it's not about fear. It's about your skills and stuff being adequate to deal with nature's conditions.

Say you woke up one morning and discovered you were out of groceries. "Okay, let's go down to the cafe for breakfast." It'd be automatic to grab your keys, your purse or wallet, throw on a jacket, and head out the door. That prepares you for the conditions you expect, the task you want to accomplish.

Wilderness survival is a similar thing, except we don't do it often enough to make it automatic, so we need to think it over more carefully. And the stakes are much higher than getting in front of a plate of bacon and eggs.

Like you, I was fortunate to have a family and early mentors who introduced me to the wilderness and the beauty it contains, and how to avoid it's dangers. Thank you for posting that.

Parker

p.s. Building your own house is a challenge, but well worth it for the understanding you'll have of how it went together when it's done. And the savings - you can avoid having a mortgage and own it free and clear, and that's a fantastic feeling. Good on ya.

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ConnieD
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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by ConnieD » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:17 pm

I have a small Trango Piranha knife that, if necessary, would cut through webbing. I would do that for a rescue, if necessary. I tell strangers to remove the waistbelt on their backpack and loosen the shoulder straps, rather than be pulled down in the water for a river crossing. I also say, no more than thigh-high water. More can be done with people holding wrists or a rope, but it is easier to cross the river at lower water earlier in the day.

My dive knife would also pierce the hull of my Old Town if I was overturned and pinned against a "strainer". But I ask Rangers and Float Trip outfits. Where are the "strainers"? Any new deadfall? . I also scout a river if there has been a storm or I don't go until after the professional Rafters have been on the river so I don't get against a "strainer" which is one of the deadliest situations on a river. I don't do "stunts" but I have kayaked in the inter-tidal zone. I wear all black. I had someone tell me, they thought I was a Rescue Ranger. Hah!

I am talking about knowledge and skills, here. That's all.

This is knowledge and skills that is "preventative rescue".

It is why I wrote my website: my website is all about preventative rescue for UL and lightweight backpackers. Now, for SUL.

I do not irrigate a wound with "living water" because there are so many "tiny living things" in the water.

I used to carry distilled water in metal foil packets, when I carried full-kit.

I only carry bandages that are latex-free because people have allergies. I prefer to carry non-stick gauze flats, more gauze flats for fluff, and surgical tape when I was carrying full-kit. I carried one battle bandage. Some of us, carried two.

I do not use QuikClot. If there is a sucking chest wound, use plastic over the wound entrance and exit. If there is arterial bleeding, I would get in there with my fingers to pinch it off. I used to carry hemostats. Fishermen carry hemostats. Now, with HIV/AIDS, I don't know, if I would take the time to put on rubber gloves and goggles for splash. I would use my amateur radio to get a helicopter. I had the military rescue helicopter codes given to me by the Helicopter Ops Commander to give them a "heads up" and what equipment and personnel need to be on the helicopter. They can only intervene if "turned down" by the SAR contracted helicopter. I hate SAR "rules". They are on a police-model and dead body recovery model. They are not on a live-rescue model.

Our successful Mountain Rescue programs led to licensing Fire Department Rescue Cars and EMT's bringing SAR right back into the police-model and dead body recovery "grid search" model, which wastes time and has more dead body recovery than live rescues.

My reputation is every rescue I am on is a live-rescue. It helps, to have the "winderness" become your own "back-yard" rather than sit indoors and talk about how much "you think you know" about anything and everything.

I am happy for any program that gets people out of that mind-set.

That is why I supported International Outward Bound, until I learned it had become about fear.

My ONLY fear? One time, I used my last Xeroform bandage.

After everything was done, I was afraid I could not find Xeroform to purchase anywhere around here. I had got mine at a Medical Supply when I was on the coast. The MD misinterpreted it, thinking I wanted the money for the bandages. I guess he was still not thinking well, because it was his relation who was rescued. At any rate, I found out any local pharmacist will order Xeroform bandages for you, if their suppler has them.

My fear? Running out of Xeroform bandages. I use them for bicyclists "road rash". I use them for motorcyclist's. I use them for a scrape on a scree slope, or rock. I have them for campers that got a burn in the campsite. I used them for a 2nd and 3rd degree burns from 400-degrees Centigrade Potassium Chromate melt in Industrial Chemistry class, in college. That, and optimum-size for the weight ice chips from the Physics Department. It was my hand and forearm.

I mention this, because self-recscue is what people should be able to do.

There are even self-rescue techniques rock-climbers ought to practice and practice.

If you are about fear, however, it is better for everyone if you stay inside all your "protective walls" you have built around yourself.

Is that harsh? Someone needs to say it.

I really hate putting myself at risk to rescue heedless fools. (I would rather improve my website.)

The wilderness is preserved to give the wild flora and fauna a place to live, and, to give humans a place to experience what it is to experience a natural environment.

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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by catspa » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:14 pm

Here in WA, the sheriff of each county has the statutory responsibility for search and rescue response, so it's hardly surprising that SAR is run on a LE model. However, some are better than others, and most are still on a performance-based dynamic. SAR is one of the best PR opportunities a sheriff has going, and they don't want to screw it up.

My SAR boss is a retired Coast Guard rescue swimmer chief, with more SAR experience in his little finger than most of us have in our entire body. Unfortunately (from my point of view), his administrative position has made him a lot more risk-averse than when he was out on the bitter end, but he's still a good guy and stands behind his people.

We also have a CG air station right here, and excellent relations with the crews who fly evac for us. Those guys are first class in my book, and they've saved many lives while risking their own. My hat's off to them. I've also been on a mission where an Army aircrew out of Ft. Lewis picked a heart-attack victim and successfully delivered him to the hospital. Helicopter crews have saved me many hours of brutally strenuous work. Thanks, fellas.

I agree with you 100% about preventative rescue and self-rescue, but you and I both know it only goes so far for most people. For being such a pessimist, it's ironic that I go put myself at risk for heedless fools, in the hope that they'll pay heed and reduce their foolishness next time they play. Goofy, huh? But handing a lost child back to his mother, or a handshake and heartfelt thanks from a patient's family member, that's a huge reward for my effort.

I agree about "live rescue" also, sometimes it's hard to keep believing as a mission drags on, but we need to do it. I've seen cases where grid search found an unresponsive patient though, I think it's a judgement call that the IC has to make based on the available resources.

Parker

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ConnieD
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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by ConnieD » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:30 pm

It sounds like you work with good people.

It has been my experience that SAR wants the priviledges handed out, like a placard in their vehicle so no tickets. They do not search their area and they do not do their grid search, rather they sit around and tell "big stories" that are "big lies". I have also seen SAR pack in beer and a little something to smoke. The ONLY stories they told, I believed, were gruesome stories about dead bodies, number of maggots, like that.

In fact, all of my "good experiences" involving SAR were in Washington State. :D

I got my mountaineering program, in Washington State. :D

I had my Outdoor Program, in Washington State. :D

I have "found" an unresponsive person, by cooperation of a retired Sheriff as disgusted as I was, by the lies and by the false bravado and bragging after days of no success, and at my request he put fresh "kids" and an experienced triage RN in a little Rescue Car, and had them drive slow on the trail I specified, windows rolled down, no talking, and tell hikers allowed back in Point Reyes National Seashore they were searching for a woman who may be semi-conscious or unconscious and likely in a ravine near the trail. I asked him to let them give her description and her first name. The first two "kids" they spoke to "found" her but one had to run after the Rescue Car shouting to get them to stop on their way back out the trail.

I had already "noticed" no one had wet pant legs, not one, except some fresh young "extra" kids. I hate SAR.

After no success finding that man and his family in Oregon coastal mountains, I was asked. From San Francisco, I said: use triangulation on his cell phone. Get the cell phone ID, use equipment you have access to through "inter-agency cooperation". No one had let me in on it, until he was already dead. I hate SAR.

In the first place, it is my considerable experience, it is essential to know some things about the person, hunter, fisherman, ex-Boy Scout, whatever to know the kind of things they might do like follow streams (I hate that, most streams meander, have brush, and end in a ravine with thich forest duff so soft they cannot climb out, besides they are too exhausted from brush-crashing by then.) or not turn back because they are a male of the species, plus know-the-area like "my own backyard".

I had walked all over that region, and, I had looked at topographic maps from TOPO!

The woman was from Scotland. I figured she knew some things about the wilderness.

I also know the gravel roads of that area of coastal Oregon.

In any event, IT IS BEST TO SEARCH "the likely places" first, taking care not to obliterate "tracks" or "traces" of the person "lost". So I also think ATV searches are just stupid. If you must, use the ATV to get to a "trailhead" you designate for the on-foot search. Have people that will actually search their area. Fire cache, like that.

Use "local resources" like people who hunt there.

The only reason I got in on the Point Reyes National Seashore search was the senior monk of the monastery insisted. He knew me. The "lost person" had started out on their property. The "command post" was in their barn.

As it was, those "fine people" in SAR, in there under martial law rules with Point Reyes National Seashore CLOSED in case it had been a murder, stole all of my mountain rescue gear and equipment, including all of my backpacking equipment, out of my truck. I hate SAR. I spent $6,000 out-of-pocket and still hadn't replaced all my gear. I hate SAR.

I learned worse things about Marin County SAR afterward.

But the law enforcement model for rescue is "essentially" wrong-headed. It is one thing to preserve tracks and preserve traces of the person "lost". It is quite another, to exclude the people who are best suited to get the job done because they know the area, know the person, and know what to do. Let them contribute some help.

The Commander said I was "included" but I was not allowed inside the Command Post again. The person who said they carried messages, lied. It was entirely disgraceful: six counties SAR and no rescue, but for me and one retired Sheriff.

catspa
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Re: wilderness survival/outdoor first aid

Post by catspa » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:37 pm

Heh. We don't get vehicle placards, in fact if we get pulled over by a stater or a city cop, we don't even mention being in SAR because of the hell we'd catch from the chief when he found out.

I'm sorry you've had bad luck with SAR units before, Connie. I can assure you that in my squad, anybody who lied about searching their area or stole anything at all would be canned right there. Like I mentioned, it's a performance-based team.

I agree about looking the most likely places first. We call that a "hasty search", and we also will put watchers at vantage points, trail crossings, and similar places to look, listen, and gather info from rec users. Especially in a popular rec area, we wouldn't close it for a search - we'd hand out flyers to all the rec users we met, and ask them to keep their eyes and ears open.

I hope you can judge SAR members on their individual merits, and not tar us all with the same brush. Really, my team has a good success record and dedicated volunteers. Please don't hate us all for a few bad apples.

Now as far as being a male of the species, that happened to me without my consent, and I've just had to make the best of it.

Parker

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