Posts Tagged ‘WFA’

Snakebite Kits … Do They Work?

One of the topics that True North covers in its various wilderness medicine programs, like Wilderness First Aid, is how to properly manage a snakebite.  Although, despite popular belief, such incidents are not common, and so few people actually die as a result, I still feel the need — almost an obligation — to cover this topic for two reasons.  The first is, even if it’s just a 1:1,000 chance that you or someone else could be bitten, it still remains a possibility, so if it does happen, then you’ll likely be darn happy that I spent the extra time teaching you.  But the main reason is that I am routinely shocked by all of the misinformation and hyperbole that abounds — from newspapers to medical journals to even first-aid manuals — and the still too common belief in old fashioned treatments and remedies, not just in lay persons, but […]

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The Most Dangerous (but Ignored) Wilderness Threat

If I were to ask you what kills more people in the backcountry than anything else, what would you guess? Based on talks that I have had with students in our various survival and medicine courses over the years, your answer might likely be some wild creature.  Topping the list of the usual suspects are bears, cougars, and snakes.  I certainly cannot blame them because deaths due to such attacks are featured most prominently in the news media, not to mention that they make a good plot thread in a screenplay.  After all, few movie trailers could be more dramatic and exciting than Leonardo DiCaprio fighting off a grizzly (even if it was computer-generated). But the simple (even if boring) fact of the matter is that what kills more people in the outdoors, either directly or as a significant contributing factor, isn’t wildlife (which is exceedingly rare), but rather an easily understood and […]

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How to Preserve a Tooth

I realize that first-aid for teeth isn’t as exciting as more lifesaving procedures, like using a tourniquet or providing CPR, but, let’s face it, if your tooth happens to get knocked out — root and all — I’m going to bet that it’ll feel almost as important.  After all, the potential of such a tooth injury is a relatively common consequence of many outdoor activities like rock climbing, skiing, and, of course, mountain biking.  On the upside, it can be fairly easily implanted by your dentist with a high probability of lasting success.  But if you are in a wilderness location with delayed access to a tooth doctor, how then can you best preserve it in the meantime?  That’s because the dislodged tooth is really not much different than any other amputated body part, like a finger … It must be kept “alive” until it can be reattached.  Here are […]

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Blisters – Prevention & Treatment

As part of our everyday lives in our front-country worlds, blisters on our feet are not that big of a deal.  That’s because you probably rarely get them, and, if you do, they are usually easy to remedy and protect.  In fact, they are likely little more than an inconvenience. However, in a backcountry setting, you will definitely view blisters from a completely different perspective.  To write that they are “painful,” as many of you would likely agree, is more than an understatement.  Not only can they can easily ruin an otherwise wonderful day of hiking, but at worst, they can be truly debilitating. So, rather than risk letting the time, effort, and money that you spent preparing for your much anticipated hike go to waste, I thought that I would share with you two related articles from Wilderness Medicine magazine which is published by the Wilderness Medical Society.  After all, I believe […]

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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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