A Good First Aid Kit
by ME & U
Last Updated 30 March 2005
I'm a first time user long time reader of this awesome site and wanted to pitch in my ideas of a good first aid kit.
I'm a licensed nurse and have been for over 10 years, with a background in military nursing. I've often "dabbled" in the world of wilderness medicine, and have some definate ideas of what a good kit should be comprised of.
First, as a 2003 A.T. thru hiker, I can tell you that I also am lost in the world of weightlessness. My base gear today weighs 9.4 lbs and one of the ditty bags I hit first was my saftey kit. In that kit is my knife. The only thing I ever cut on the A.T. was the cheese A knife is an essential piece of gear that most of us carry and for the weight savy folks out there, this may appeal to you.
Aron Rolston cut off his arm with a dull multi-tool and his example of survival is and should be a beacon for the realm of possibility for all of us who venture out into the wilds!
With that said... I changed my 1 ounce knife to two stiff backed razor blades. I keep them in an aluminum motrin tablet package with med tape and labeled them "razors"
The second thing I'd like to add is that there is no substitute for common sense!! Any weight saver will tell you that in order to lose pack weight you have to make sacrifices. If you lack skills in the arena of medicine and are concerned about both weight and saftey then I would recommend an Adventure Medical Kit. The solo kit weighs 6 oz and has all the basic essentials you should need in just about any situation.
My idea of a good first aid kit "is keep it simple stupid" Stick with the basic ABC's: Airway Breathing and Circulation and leave the rest for the experts.
These experts will all tell you that your best case senario is to seek medical attention, as soon as possible and in most wilderness medical cases... this is what saves lives.
Knowledge is key. Learn basic first aid and go from there. You'll find that the more you know the less you have to carry.
Now, I know that a bunch of you guys & gals may respond with feedback in this area (if this gets posted) and I'm not trying to open a big can of worms here, I just wanted to share some of my ideas and see where it leads. I'm always looking for cool tips...
4 band-aids (2 for "me" & 2 for "U")
4 butter fly sutures (save being Dr. Frankenstein for your dreams)
1 knuckle bandage
1 2x2 bandage
2 razor blades (1 for ropes & 1 for that occasional surgery)
a coulpe motrin tabs (pain)
a couple pepsid tabs (mountain food)
a couple anti-histamine tabs (sniffles, bad bug bites, ect...)
1 pack of tums (freguent indigestion and a calcium boost ta boot)
1 freebie pack of triple anti-biotic cream (spread between 4 band-aids)
1 saftey pin
1 bandana (elsewhere)
duct tape on my trekking poles (replaces everything else)
1 pocket pack of listerine strips and a tooth brush (it's the brushing that counts)
and lastly... a business card of my favorite outfitter with the phone # 904-264-6512 written on the back. This is the # for Maynard Cox who is our countries head honcho when it comes to snake bites. I picked up this public information on the bullitin board of the Eckville Hikers Center in PA off Hawk Mountain road, 0.2 off the trail after a day of spotting 5 rattlesnakes, 1 huge copperhead and a ton of rat snakes. I was freaked out to the max that day and it was comforting to have the chance to gain some more knowledge on the subject of snakes. This also provided "US" with a more comfortable feeling in regards to the resident rat snake the shelter taker keeps for rodent erradication, that is humungus by the way.
This experts advice, for those who haven't read his article, is leave the snakebite kit on the store shelf, practice good, alert hiking and stay away from likely snake infested areas like rock shelfs, logged areas, and rocky outcroppings. Stay on trails and be mindfull of snakes sunning in this area.
If bitten, seek medical attention fast and provide them with his phone # as he suggests that many in the med field are lacking proper skills when it comes to snakes. Good enough for me!
The rest is up to you... gain knowledge!
By the way, the day we saw the snakes, I was left with an impression that my newest, biggest fear is, and always will be, copperheads!
I came within inches of stepping into the only spot of ground anywhere near the pulpit rock area in PA and contained in the leaf covered spot was the largest copperhead I've ever seen anywhere, including pictures. My downward step almost landed directly on top of it and if it wasn't for a split second of timing and one small piece of this snake I spotted (which I thought was a dead snake by comparing the color to the rattlers we'd already seen), a rock to step on beside the pile, and quick thinking, I most likely wouldn't be writing this to you all. We were far from help at that point, or at least thought so, and I can tell you this... I have a new pair of mental snake goggles equiped with radar, night vision, movement sensors, a bodyheat temp gage, and unilateral laser beam launchers to fry the snot out of any thing that moves while I'm in snake country. I am an animal lover and one who feels at one with nature but this was an eye opener for me and the thought of being tagged by a copperhead is one I'd love to supress!
It's my hope that readers of this article will use their common sense, stay away from wives tales, craphouse doctors, and notions of being "qualified" when your not, and lastly... be aware of the fact that sometimes being helpful is actually more dangerous when it comes to first aid. Seek help first! Then think about what you can do to help the injured person or persons your with. Their lives and the rest of your trip together may depend on this.
p.s. before the onslaunt I'm about to receive for bringing up the subject that no one else seems to care to stick their neck out for I'd like to have a few last words...I come in peace and go easy on my hiking partner "me" for being wacked in the head enough to actually be with me. She trusts me with her life and I would never put her or anyone else in a bad situation without first consulting the spirit world.