Wilderness Medicine Basics

By Nick Italiano

Welcome to my first installment of Medic Monday. A new project for 2022 where I bring some valuable information on first aid and wilderness health!

First things first, a little about my background. I have both my First Aid and Wilderness First Aid Certifications, as well as a few courses in Austere Medicine. I am currently studying for my wilderness first responder certification to enhance my skills and response time. I am also an environmental scientist, and I am familiar with biotic and abiotic (living and non-living) factors within ecosystems that can potentially impact your health and wellness while out in the great outdoors. I recently partnered with Survival Med University, a physician owned Wilderness Medicine and Survival training company, designed to bring high quality training that is accessible to all.

Why is this important? I have said many times in the past Nature is the most beautiful thing that is constantly trying to kill you. Many outdoors people including day hikers, campers, and bushcraft enthusiasts learn valuable skills to help make their experiences in the great outdoors safer and more pleasant, however, one skill that is often overlooked is basic first aid. While many people carry some first aid supplies, many people lack the proper training to properly utilize the equipment or react under pressure. While I hope the tips that I am bringing you will be helpful, it is truly my goal to encourage everyone to seek out the proper training so they can help keep themselves and others safe!

The pictures in this post are of my personal IFAK (individual first aid kit) that I keep in my edc/hiking pack. While this is not the only medical equipment, I carry this is my most comprehensive for emergency situations. The tools in here are primarily focused on handling major bleed situations, but also cover things for asthma, pain, disinfection, minor injuries, dehydration, allergic reactions, and rewarming. The focus on bleeding situations is important because in many cases, handling a major bleed quickly and efficiently can mean the difference between life and death; In some cases, a major bleed can result in death in just 5 minutes. In most cases the best way to handle a major bleed is applying constant pressure to the wound, but that is not always possible to do manually either because you are injured, or you may need to focus your attention on getting help; tools like Quick Clot or a torniquet can be very valuable with the proper training in their use.  Training in the proper use of these tools is very important, as improper use can render them ineffective or even more dangerous then using not at all.  When it comes to using a torniquet, I will always recommend a high-quality proven tool. Yes, they are a little expensive, but your life or the life of someone else is worth it. In situations where you do not have a torniquet on hand you can improvise one using materials you have on hand, while not as quick or effective, it is better than nothing.  This will require some training and practice!

If you are interested in training, I highly recommend you go to the link below and sign up for a course with Survival Med University. The Wilderness First Aid Course is inexpensive and taught entirely online by a doctor who is also an avid outdoors enthusiast! I have also included some resources linked below.

Thanks for reading, and as always…Stay Safe, Stay Wild!        

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