Essential First Aid Kit For The Outdoors
Since about 1991 I have been responsible for people in the outdoors in one guise or another: that’s decades! In all those years I have dealt with many first aid incidents with several that have needed the assistance of the emergency services. And you know what? In all those years, and in all those situations, from fallen climbers to hypothermic walkers to the chap who suffered with a heart attack on Great Gable … I don’t think I have ever used a single bandage as a first aider. What I almost always have needed, was a calm head, a reassuring voice, something to keep my casualty warm, and a plan. So if you cover nothing else, make sure you know what to do, and have something to keep your casualty warm and off the cold floor.
Here I look at what you should reasonably consider carrying as a first-aider in the great British outdoors. I haven’t suggested something for every conceivable situation since often you will have to use your initiative, or simply make do. And anyway, if you end up packing your fears, you’ll simply pack a first aid kit that is so large you’d just leave it at home!
Casualty Monitoring Card (plus a pencil)
This really is one piece of kit that weighs next to nothing and takes up little or no space. Print yours out on an A4 piece of paper (ideally waterproof paper). I have written a post on the need and advantages for carrying a casualty card here, but in short you need to carry/use one of these since:
There are four good reasons why you should carry and use one of these …
- As a medical record
You are potentially the first on the scene. Hence you are best placed to record what has happened there and potentially before the casualty has lost consciousness.
- It can inform your decisions
One aspect of using the casualty card is that you use it to monitor and record the casualty’s vital signs: pulse, breathing, colour, temperature, and state of alertness. In turn it keeps you focused on how the casualty’s condition may be changing. As you gain information you’re better able to make decisions.
- It is of use for the medics who take over
Recording the vital signs and recording them every five minutes means that when the medics arrive they have an idea of how your casualty is progressing: getting worse? Getting better? Staying stable?
- It can massively reassure the casualty that you know what you are doing
And this is the best reason in my experience for using a casualty card – it makes you, a humble first aider, look incredibly professional and this is hugely reassuring to the casualty and to anyone with them.
It costs practically nothing, it weighs practically nothing and this one piece of first aid kit is enormously beneficial. So if you don’t already carry one in your first aid kit – now’s the time to get online and to print a few off.
Will Legon (of Will4Adventure.com ) works professionally in the outdoors leading groups walking, mountain biking and instructing single pitch rock climbing. Since 2009 Will has been delivering first aid training specialising in outdoor first aid courses. He is an ITC (Immediate Temporary Care) trainer, offering a range of courses accredited by Ofqual and the SQA. In a former life, Will was a maths teacher and an infantry officer in the Territorial Army.