For Your Safety: Wilderness medical emergencies

(Courier stock image)

(Courier stock image)

Let’s consider a few of the most common medical emergencies that occur in the wilderness when you are miles, and hours, away from help. That routine day hike or lake visit can turn bad moments after you leave your car, leaving you with life or death decisions to make on the spot. We will talk about a number of possible emergencies and what to do if one occurs.

When you are in the wilderness do not count on EMS getting to you quickly and do not always count on a cell phone to contact help. Count on yourself! When you approach an injured person always check the scene for safety so you do not become victim No. 2!

Shock is first on the list: Always check for shock because it is ever present in trauma situations. Shock can kill. You Tube carries numerous videos on treatment for shock.

Heart attacks: A helpful hint used by first responders is to have the patient take one 325mg aspirin (4x81mg aspirins) asap! Chewed if possible. This applies whether in the wilderness or at the Thanksgiving table.

Dehydration: Strenuous exercise outdoors can cause the loss of 1 to 2 liters per hour in perspiration. This can happen in cold weather too. The little bottles of water you buy at the store are half-liter bottles. When in the wilderness and actively perspiring it is wise to consume two to four bottles per hour, keeping in mind that the body absorbs only one liter in one hour so chugging down a giant bottle of some commercially marketed drink may cause you to only throw up and further dehydrate yourself. Take sufficient water with you and store it in your stomach and, sadly, beer (a diuretic) is no substitute for water! Put a pinch of salt and a couple of pinches of sugar into a half-liter bottle of water to aid in rehydration.

Bleeding: Blood running out of the body is not a good thing. To stop the flow of blood direct pressure is essential. Press down hard on the bleeding wound for up to 20 minutes to stem the blood flow. Use two hands or cover the wound with a cloth bandage and then press if the wound is large. Tourniquets are potentially dangerous and will be discussed later.

Needless to say, we are just scratching the surface of wilderness response. Take courses on wilderness medicine from the Red Cross or other reputable organizations. The life you save may be your own! Next week we will address tourniquets, animal bites, burns, impalements and snakebite.

K.H. Kraft has over 40 years of affiliations with intelligence and police organizations. Sources for these articles are decades of personal experience and numerous official manuals.

Donate Report a Typo Contact
Most Read
Event Calendar
Event Calendar link
Submit Event