Dealing With A Serious Injury In The Wilderness
There is probably nothing that can
cause a feeling of helpless and despair than when someone receives a serious
injury while in a remote spot. Hiking and camping are fun, but whenever
you go on either of these activities, you should be aware of the potential for
serious injury. Falls are the most likely cause of these injuries and can
result in broken limbs, as well as injuries to the body and head. Unlike
more minor injuries, such as cuts or bruises, there are times when the person
who has been injured will be unable to continue on. First aid kits are a must while traveling in the wilderness.
If some member of your party has fallen, the first thing to do is to make as
accurate an assessment of the injuries as possible. If the person is
unconscious, they probably have a concussion, or perhaps a fractured skull and
will need immediate medical attention. Broken arms can probably be field
dressed, and the patient will be able to walk out on his or her own once they
have rested for a bit. Broken ribs are painful, but will usually heal on
their own. An exception is if the rib has punctured a lung, in which case
the person should be evacuated on a stretcher. A broken leg will be
more difficult to handle, and the person will need to be carried out.
Taking Care Of Broken Bones In The Field
If the break is fairly clean, and the bones are not showing, the best thing to
do is to make a splint to keep the limb stable. If the bone has broken
through the skin, do not try to set it yourself. Clean the area gently
and cover it with a cloth. Make a splint to keep the bones from moving
around even more.
Can They Be Carried Out?
There are definitely times when the injured person should be taken back as
quickly as possible for medical care. When there are several other people
in the party, it will be possible to construct a makeshift stretcher from some
poles and a blanket, or even several shirts. The person should be placed
on the blanket (their weight will help to keep the stretcher stable) and you
should secure them to the stretcher with ropes or strips of cloth, to prevent
them from falling off during the journey. A neck injury will mean that
support for the head must be provided, to prevent further damage.
If you are the only other person on the trip, and have no cell phone, you will
have no alternative but to leave to get help. If the person is conscious, leave
water and food with them, and make sure they have a blanket on them to keep
them warm. A whistle should also be left with the person, to signal their
location. If the accident has occurred off the beaten trail, mark your
path as you leave so that you will be able to find them again easily.
Return to your starting point and notify emergency personnel immediately.
Remain there to guide them to the injured party and explain to them exactly
what has happened.
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