The 10 Essentials: First-Aid Supplies

12:01 a.m. on May 26, 2008 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "The 10 Essentials: First-Aid Supplies"

While a comprehensive packing list depends on many factors, certain outdoor gear is considered essential whether you’re heading off on an extended backcountry bushwhack or exploring the trails in your local woods. As part of a weekly series, here's a look at outdoor essential number five: #5. First-Aid Supplies First-aid kits range from the basic, suitable to treating blisters and minor cuts...

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9:24 p.m. on May 26, 2008 (EDT)
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I strongly second the recommendation of a wilderness first aid course. Take one from one of the 4 or 5 organizations that have been certified by the Wilderness Medicine Society (the main organization of MDs who specialize in wilderness medicine). I have taken most of my recerts (every 2-3 years) from Wilderness Medicine Institute (part of NOLS), but the other accredited groups are good as well. The ARC course is ok for a very basic introduction, but is not much beyond their Basic First Aid and CPR courses (with all due respect to some friends who are ARC WFA instructors). The accredited courses are minimum 20 hours with hands-on and extensive scenarios.

If you get more than an hour from the trailhead, you really need at least 2 people in your party who have WFA or better (WFR or WEMT). Reason for 2 is what if one of them is the victim.

I have seen everything in first aid kits from something that had only a few aspirin and bandaids (this on a month-long expedition, and he ended up borrowing blister stuff from the rest of us) to a virtually full ER crash cart with all sorts of prescription meds (on that trip, a day hike, we didn't use anything!). The Adventure Medical (Eric Weiss' company) and Atwater Carey (Buck Tilton's company) seem to be the best suited for ready-made kits that are tailored to actual backcountry excursions of the type I take. I had one of the Adventure Med ones for 3rd World countries in Africa, and ended up "lending" the sterile syringe sub-kit to a Brit who got an abscessed tooth and had to go to a local dentist in a rather unsanitary-looking shack - you aren't likely to need that in the US or Canadian backcountry.

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