Wilderness first aid

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Wilderness first aid is the specific discipline of First aid which relates to care in remote areas, where emergency medical services will be difficult to obtain or will take a long time to arrive. Nursing care, though not part of normal first aid, is part of wilderness first aid.

Training in wilderness first aid is available in the US, UK, and Canada. Any group of persons traveling in wilderness should have at least one person trained in wilderness first aid and carry a first aid kit designed for the area they are traveling in.


Leaving or staying with an injured person

A classic problem is whether to leave an injured person or stay if only one person is ambulatory. Barring special circumstances, the injured one should be stabilized, placed in shelter, and marked in a way visible from the air (usually a single, long line of cut brush or trampled snow). Then the injured one should be left alone, while the other goes for help.

If there are three or more, the healthy group should be split into halves first by medical training (the most skilled staying with the patient), and then by speed, with the fastest going for help, and the others remaining to make the preparations. (In a party of four, it would be a rare hiker who would be better sent for help alone, rather than sent in a sub-party of two.)

Ensuring the rescuers can find the injured person is crucial. If a personal locator beacon is available, it should be triggered and placed with the injured person. If enough help is available, air-visible markings may be worthwhile. Where surveyor's tape is available within the party (and assuming clear trails are available), it should be used by the sub-party going for help, to back up memory and notes with tape-flagging of the toward-the-injury-location choices of trail at intersections. (When an injury location is off clear trails, by distances that make it impractical to keep blazes of tape within sight of each other, forks in watercourses should be treated as substitutes for trail intersections.)

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