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Survival First Aid... What to do?

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We all have good first aid kits and talk about them on here all the time. But actual first aid is hardly spoken of and with some good reasons: no one wants to post what to do in case someone reads it and it doesn’t work and then you get trash talked on, they’re looked at as if they’re a goof, or are afraid of getting sued (which is a good reason to keep it to yourself). But going over my trunk load of crap I have from my days in the Army I came across these First Aid notes I got while at Ft. Campbell’s Combat Medic Course so I left the info the same while adapting it from a military hostile survival setting to a wilderness setting, hope it works. Some of you I have no doubt already know this stuff, some of you won’t agree, remember this is from 1988 and may be a little outdated.
When journeying into the wilderness it is important to carry a complete first aid kit and even a first aid book. It is also wise to take a first aid course. A good diet, cleanliness and appropriate clothing will lower the risk of harmful situations. Disease, infection and often, insect bites can be avoided when maintaining a proper diet. It is important to bathe daily but if this is not possible be sure to wash your hands frequently. Soap can be made using ashes and animal fat or by boiling the inner bark of a pine tree. Construct a toothbrush by mashing the end of a green twig. When setting out for your journey remember to pack a wide range of clothing and extra footwear.
If an accident occurs in the wilderness, it will be your responsibility to deal with the situation. The specific sequences of actions when dealing with this situation are:
1. Remain calm, providing your patient with quiet, efficient first aid treatment.
2. Keep the patient warm and lying down. Do not move this injured person until you have discovered the extent of the injuries.
3. Check the airway of the individual first...tilt the head back, and make sure nothing obstructs the airway and then start mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration immediately if the injured person is not breathing.
4. Stop any bleeding.
5. Give your patient reassurance. Watch carefully for signs of shock.
6. Check for cuts, fractures, breaks and injuries to the head, neck or spine.
7. Do not allow people to crowd the injured person.
8. Do not remove clothing unless it is imperative.
9. Decide if your patient can be moved to a proper medical facility. If this is not possible, prepare a suitable living area in which shelter, heat and food are provided.

Shock is a depression of all of the body processes and may follow any injury regardless of how minor. Factors such as hemorrhage, cold and pain will intensify shock. When experiencing shock the patient will feel weak and may faint. The skin becomes cold and clammy and the pulse, weak and rapid. Shock can be more serious than the injury itself.
Use the following method to prevent and control shock:
1. When treating injuries: restore breathing, stop bleeding, treat breaks and fractures
2. If there are no head or chest injuries place the patient on his/her back with the head and chest lower than the legs. This will help the blood circulate to the brain, heart, lungs and other major organs.
3. If severe head and chest injuries are present elevate the upper body. If chest injuries are present, elevate the injured side to assist in the functioning of the uninjured lung.
4. If the injured person becomes unconscious, place him/her in a face down position to prevent choking on blood, vomit or the tongue. 5. Keep your patient warm and under shelter.
If breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Place the patient on his/her back and follow these steps:
1. To open the airway lift the patient's neck and tilt the head back.
2. Keeping the neck elevated, pinch the nostrils to prevent air leakage.
3. Place your mouth completely around the victim's mouth and blow, watching for chest expansion.
4. After removing your mouth, listen for air leaving the patient's lungs and watch for the chest to fall. Check for an airway blockage if the chest does not rise.
Repeat these steps approximately 12 to 15 times per minute. If treating a child, cover the nose and mouth with you mouth. Use smaller puffs of air and repeat this method 20 to 25 times per minute.
To control bleeding, elevate the wounded area above the heart and apply pressure using either gauze, clean cloth, dried seaweed or sphagnum moss. Use pressure at the pulse point between the injured area and the heart if bleeding fails to stop. If bleeding still persists, use a tourniquet between the injury and the heart. This method should only be used in extreme situations. After bleeding has been controlled, wash the wounded area with disinfectant and apply a dressing and bandages.
A fracture is classified as either a simple (closed) or compound (open). Signs that a fracture is present include:
1. Pain at the affected area.
2. The area may or may not be deformed.
3. The victim is unable to place weight on the area without experiencing pain.
4. A grating sensation or sound may be present during any motion of the injured area.
Treatment is as follows:
1. If in doubt, treat the injury as a fracture.
2. Splint the joints above and below the fracture.
3. If the fracture may penetrate the skin, it could be necessary to apply traction to straighten the deformity.
4. Be sure to pad your splints.
5. Check the splint ties frequently to be sure they do not hinder circulation.
6. Cover all open wound with a clean dressing before splinting.
Dislocation happens when the ligaments near a joint tear, allowing the movement of the bone from its socket. It is unwise to treat a dislocation unless you are a trained professional as permanent damage may occur. The affected extremity should be supported using a sling or other device and pain controlled with aspirin or other suitable drugs.
Treat sprains by applying cold to the area for the first 24 hours then once the swelling has subsided, let the sprain sit for a day. Apply heat the following day to aid in the healing process. The sprain should be splinted and rendered immobile until the pain has completely disappeared.
Concussions or other head injuries are often accompanied by a leakage of watery blood from the nose or ears. Other symptoms may include convulsions, an unresponsiveness of the pupils or headache and vomiting. Keep the injured party warm, dispense a pain killer regularly and allow time for the body to rest and repair.

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Updated 03-03-2008 at 12:39 PM by Beo



  1. bulrush's Avatar
    Good information above.

    insect bites can be avoided when maintaining a proper diet.

    I have to disagree with the insect repellant being based on the food you eat. A few lucky people seem to be able to not attract mosquitos. This really doesn't depend on diet, it's just, you either get bit, or you don't.

    to stop bleeding, apply ... dried seaweed or sphagnum moss

    Applying non-sterile items to an open wound can drastically increase the rate of infection. But if that's all you have, use it and ship the patient to a more advanced facility.

    Treat sprains by applying cold to the area for the first 24 hours then once the swelling has subsided, let the sprain sit for a day. Apply heat the following day to aid in the healing process.

    The last guidelines I read is apply ice for 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, for the first 2 hours. After that any internal bleeding should have stopped. Then begin heat after 24 hours.
    Updated 03-12-2009 at 02:07 PM by bulrush