Archive for October 2012

Tourniquet: Fact v. Fiction

Tourniquet: Fact v. Fiction

Recently, I was reading a popular wilderness first-aid handbook that is used to trained thousands of Americans each year and one of the sections really bothered me.  In its outline of how to control severe bleeding, it indicated that a tourniquet is used “only” as a last resort since it may “cause gangrene” and “may require surgical amputation of the limb.”  The handbook also advises that in the event that a tourniquet must be used, that it should be loosened in “five minute” intervals to check if bleeding has stopped and to “allow some blood flow” to the affected limb.  Sounds reasonable enough, right?  Except that it isn’t accurate. According to much medical evidence, the reality is that a tourniquet, used by a trained wilderness first-aid provider, may, in fact, be the initial method of bleeding control in severe extremity bleeding. Much of what the medical community now knows about the […]

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Erik’s Top 10 Recommended Reading

Erik's Top 10 Recommended Reading

If you are looking for a terrific story about a true survival situation, then Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand, is for you. Hillenbrand tells the true story of Louis Zamperini who, while serving aboard a bomber during World War II, crashed into the Pacific while searching for another missing plane from his squadron.  If spending 47 days at sea with two other surviving crew members in a life raft with no supplies wasn’t bad enough, Zamperini was then captured by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war in a series of POW camps suffering (to put it mildly) intense physical and psychological abuse.  And it wasn’t just Zamperini who demonstrated the most amazing character and will to endure, but dozens of other Allied servicemen, including a handful of Japanese guards who risked much to protect them when they could. Why do I read such books?  Besides the fact that I […]

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Which Way is North?

Which Way is North?

Being lost … to put it mildly … sucks.  I know.  I’ve been there.  Hopefully, I won’t be returning any time soon. To help keep you from making the same visit, or, at least, to help you keep it as short as possible, I want to call your attention to a small “road sign” that might someday point you towards the right path. But, first, a little background information … Of all of the many stressors that one may suffer in the backcountry, being lost is near the top of the list.  Certainly, it can be a complicating factor, making an already difficult situation worse.  More to the point, though, being lost often forges the first link in a chain of seemingly insignificant and unrelated events that leads to crisis. Why? Because being lost really doesn’t have so much to do with our physical position as it does with our […]

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