First Aid Thinking
Your safety equipment is only useful if you have it with you and you know how to use it. I'm no expert I'm just talking about what I do and what works for me, follow my advice at your own risk. I highly recommend you do a first aid course and stay up to date with it. I discuss first aid equipment I take with me on a hike in the gear section. Note I never hike without my PLB, even on day hikes.
First aid while hiking can be all about thinking outside the box. I carry a first aid kit but many of the items I use for first aid are not in the actual kit. For example, my water bladder and hose can be used to irrigate a wound, a clean bandanna or t-shirt can be a wound dressing, an aluminium wind shield or crushed plastic water bottle can be used as a wrist brace for sprains and fractures, duct tape can also be used to hold yourself together while you hike out to help and an air mat can be used to as a splint.
Items not in kit but carried elsewhere:
- Bug spray
- Platypus water treatment bag for irrigating wounds
- Splint – mattress half inflated
- Knife on hip
- Head torch
- Sunglasses/eye protection
- Bandana (used for sun protection, pot holder, eye mask for sleep, face mask from smoke/bugs, sock, bandage)
- Phone – I've been astounded at the places I've got reception. So take it. Triple 0 or 112 may can sometimes work with limited signal so alway give it a try (climb high to see if you can get reception). Keep it in your bag turned off or in aeroplane mode to save battery.
- Air bed repair
- 2 x AAA batteries (not shown in photo)
I also believe prevention is better than cure, so be sure to look after yourself. Keep hydrated, keep warm, keep dry, tend to blisters and scrapes as soon as possible. You need to know your limits, plan to stay within them and never underestimate a situation or overestimate your skill.
When thinking about first aid I have categorised problems into two main categories. The first is, common injuries that need to be treated as soon as possible to enable you to keep enjoying your hike and prevent the problem from escalating. The second category is serious problems that you need to treat immediately and either hike out as soon as possible or get help. I have created my first aid kit with these categories in mind, to either treat common injuries or stabilise serious injuries while i hike out or seek medical help.
Common injuries that should be treated as soon as possible, so they don’t get worse, include:
Serious possible injuries to control or stabilise and walk out as soon as possible or seek help, include:
- diarrhoea vomiting
- breaks, sprains
- deep cuts/grazes
- strong pain
- hypothermia / hyperthermia
- snake bite