Education Article /  Wilderness First Aid Basics

Wilderness First Aid Basics

Posted by National CPR Association |

Jun 06, 2018

Wilderness First Aid Basics

Wilderness first aid is an important but often overlooked skill that could be useful in many situations. Although these procedures were meant to be used in the outdoors, they can just as easily be applied in any other circumstance or accident. But what exactly is wilderness first aid?


Wilderness first aid can be defined as the knowledge and ability to respond to and take action on any illness, injury, or emergency in the outdoors. These methods are specifically designed to be effective even in the absence of modern facilities and more sophisticated equipment. Some wilderness first aid skills include:


  • Treating bites and burns
  • Dressing open wounds
  • Setting injured limbs
  • Controlling bleeding


In the event of an accident or backpacking mishap, having the right skills and materials in your arsenal can not only prevent further injury, but can actually save lives.


The Essentials


Preparation is the most important step in first aid. Without the right tools and materials, it will be more challenging for you to administer first aid the right way, and you might be forced to compromise when the time comes. Proper preparation entails assembling a thorough and complete stock of items that can be considered first aid essentials, such as:


  • bandages
  • disinfectant
  • Benadryl
  • tweezers
  • ointment to treat bites and stings


Before every trip, make sure to check up on your kit to see if any items need replacement or replenishment. All your supplies should be clean and in sufficient amounts.


Basic First Aid


Of course, having a complete arsenal of first aid supplies and tools means nothing if you don’t actually know how to use them properly. Knowing the ABC’s of administering first aid, that is, knowing which supplies to use and when and how to use them, can really mean the difference between having a safe outdoor adventure and a risky, even life-threatening one.


Indeed, first aid training is a necessary weapon you will need if you want to spend a lot of time exploring the outdoors. There is an abundance of organizations on the local, regional, or national level that offer lessons and crash courses in basic first aid to anyone and everyone interested. Their classes are especially useful if you plan on spending a lot of time hiking or backpacking.


If you have already undergone previous training but have gone a bit rusty, there’s no problem. You can easily take supplementary classes in:


  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)


Survival Skills


Of course, physical wellbeing is not the only concern you should have when you’re out exploring the great outdoors. While it is essential to be prepared with the necessary knowledge in first aid, you also need to be prepared for when you suddenly get stranded or run out of supplies and rations while out in the wild.


To be prepared for such a situation, make sure to have items in your bag and survival kit that can serve more than one purpose. Multi-functional items are great because they can be used in a variety of ways but only take up limited space – the perfect combination if you’re going to be out in the wild and need to be both safe and on the go at all times. The secret to being prepared in the wild is really to anticipate all possible scenarios and to think outside of the box when faced with a problem. Use what you have and try to figure out a way to get out of your predicament.


Useful survival skills include:


  • Tying knots
  • Building shelters
  • Starting fires
  • Fishing
  • Foraging for food and clean drinking water


Make sure to cover all bases and ensure that you have access to all the basic needs that will keep you sustained until you find your way back or get help from other people.


General Safety


It’s important to make sure you can fend for yourself out in the wild, but make sure that others have your back, too. Ensure that someone who won’t be hiking or backpacking with you knows where and when you will be going and has a way of reaching you in case of emergencies. This way, if things don’t go according to plan, you can be assured that help will be sent as soon as possible.


Exploring the outdoors is a fun and exciting experience, but it is essential that you equip yourself with the proper supplies, skills, and knowledge in order to keep you and your companions safe.




Why You Should Care About Wilderness First Aid

The Best Practices for Remote Wilderness First Aid

First Aid Tips for Survival

Staying Safe Out in the Wild

Keeping Your Little Ones Safe on an Adventure