Blogger’s Note: Great minds apparently think alike. I wrote this piece and was about to publish it when I noticed fellow Club Outdoors blogger, Karl Seckinger, had already written a similar posting. I’m publishing this anyway with hopes you will find both of our blog pieces to be informative and complementary on the topic.
Hey, let’s face it…nobody likes to think about it, especially when we’re out enjoying the outdoors. Yet, the chances are pretty good that during your lifetime you could encounter a potential life-threatening situation while boating, hunting, hiking, or whatever it is you do for outdoors fun. Are you prepared to act when sometimes minutes or even seconds can mean the difference between life or death?
What would you do if suddenly your fishing partner complains of chest “tightness” and shortness of breath, but explains it away by reasoning that casting for muskies all day will do that to a person? What if you wake up in hunting camp and your buddy mentions he has a splitting headache and nausea, but that he’ll be okay as the symptoms will eventually subside? What if you’re in the BWCA miles away from civilization and someone in your canoe party suffers a diabetic emergency? Would you know what to do? Are you prepared to act?
Part of being a well-rounded outdoors person is to deal with the unthinkable. Granted, the last thing on our minds when we go out to have fun is to dwell on what could potentially go wrong. Yet, all those skills as a hunter or fisherman don’t mean anything when presented with a medical or traumatic crisis at hand.
For nearly a dozen years I worked professionally on an advanced life support (ALS) ambulance service where I witnessed countless outdoor emergency situations. Falls from tree stands…boating mishaps…heart attacks…freak accidents…you name it. When a person heads outdoors, whether to the woods or on a lake somewhere, the potential for getting hurt or somehow stressing the body resulting in a medical emergency definitely increases.
As a sportsman, you owe it to yourself and to those you recreate with to be prepared for those type of emergency situations on which none of us like to dwell. I’m not necessarily suggesting everyone must spend hours taking a first-aid class. Of course, training is always a good thing and I do encourage it. Rather, develop a mindset that accepts the fact accidents and situations do happen and they can occur to anyone…anywhere.
Consider these helpful outdoor emergency pointers:
- Learn to recognize early that an emergency situation may be developing.
- Consider all your options in how you can respond seeking help.
- Act decisively and with a coordinated effort by everyone involved.
- Reassure the victim by trying to instill confidence in them.
- NEVER put yourself or others at increased risk for bodily harm.
- Learn beforehand what underlying medical conditions an outdoors buddy might have.
- When trauma occurs…it’s best to let rescuers move the victim.
- If an object is impaled in the body…LEAVE IT…and stabilize it.
- If a wound is openly bleeding, in most cases DIRECT PRESSURE should be applied.
- Remember, use common sense while also attempting to stay calm and a medical situation will stand the best chance at resolving itself with a positive outcome.
At the very least, as Karl suggested, you need to carry a functional first-aid kit with you when traveling outdoors. This kit must contain the type of supplies and first-aid information you are most likely to need based on what activities you are doing. Some great kits are made by Adventure Medical Kits or you can assemble your own in a plastic, waterproof container.
Whether you encounter a medical emergency (such as a stroke, heart attack, etc.) or a traumatic injury (such as a fall, deep laceration, etc.), as an outdoors person you must always go afield capable of taking quick action.
© 2009 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.