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photo courtesy Robert-Owen-Wahl, 8/27/2006. Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/users/robert-owen-wahl-2077322/

Can you recognize the signs of a stroke? Can you perform the Heimlich manuever on a choking victim? Could you make a splint for a broken or sprained finger? Do you even carry a rudimentary first aid kit in your camping gear?

The truth is, many of us fall short on our medical skills, even for basic injuries, and often we don’t even bring a basic medical first aid kit in our camping gear. This post is meant to help us rectify this deficiency so that we can be more effective when (not if) an accident occurs. You’ll be the campground hero, and that feels really good.

First Aid Kit

Quick, do you have a first aid kit in your gear? Either you know this or you don’t, and it should be a solid “yes”. Just as important as having a first aid kit is knowing where it is and being able to get to it quickly. Do you know what you should have in your first aid kit? Well, there are many things that you could put in a well-equipped first aid kit, but here are some of the basics to include:

Adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, adhesive cloth tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze roll, gauze pads, nonlatex gloves, roller bandage and clips, aspirin

The amount of each is up to you, but the more you include, the larger your first aid kit will be. There are other emergency items that you could include, including cold compresses, emergency blankets and more. You can develop your own first aid kit, or there are a number of different prepackaged first aid kits, and you can review several here on Amazon.

CPR/AED And First Aid Training

Once you have a stocked first aid kit, the next step would be to become CPR/AED certified. This certification lasts for 2 years, so you will need to renew your certification on an ongoing basis. This is a good thing and not just a money grab – you’re potentially dealing with a life and death situation, so keeping your skills up could be VERY important. The American Red Cross offers numerous classes to become CPR/AED certified, and this will help you to deal with breathing and cardiac emergencies.

The American Red Cross also offers additional classes that include a First Aid component. Not only will you be certified in CPR/AED, but also certified in First Aid, again for 2 years. The First Aid component will cover things such as burns, scrapes and cuts, illnesses, other injuries as well as heat and cold emergencies. To amp up things just a little bit more, they also offer a class that includes Pediatrics for First Aid, which includes young children up to the age of 12 (over 12 they categorize in the “adult” class). Now you can provide some serious help, as well as properly utilize your first aid kit, until EMTs arrive to take over and provide further medical help with a fully stocked ambulance.

Wilderness And Remote First Aid Course

Once you have a basic First Aid certification, you can enhance this by taking a Wilderness First Aid course and become certified as well. This can be very important if you are out hiking, climbing, swimming or just generally enjoying the outdoors. Specifically, a Wilderness First Aid course will cover things like: wilderness wound management, shock, evacuation plans and emergency procedures, altitude illness, anaphylaxis, dislocations, wilderness first aid kits and more.

Unfortunately, these classes are harder to find, but if you have an REI store near you, they often provide these classes throughout the year, so check with your local store to see when their next class is. If you don’t have an REI near you, inquire at your local outdoor goods retailer to see if they might be interested in hosting a Wilderness First Aid class. You could also inquire at your local tech school or hospital or medical center to see if they would be interested as well. This certification mirrors the regular First Aid certification in that it lasts 2 years.

photo courtesy Alexis_Fotos, 10/10/2016. Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/users/alexas_fotos-686414/

First Aid For Pets

Yes, you really can take a class to help your four-legged friend should they become ill or need medical attention. The American Red Cross offers an online course that covers some of the same basic information you would learn in the First Aid and CPR classes: breathing, cardiac emergencies, wounds and bleeding, seizures, and even preventative care. While these do not offer certification, it is important information and could prove vital in keeping your furry family member, or that of another family, alive and well.

Going Beyond The Basics

In researching about first aid classes and wondering just how far things could go, I discovered that there is at least one organization, NOLS, that provides a variety of further education in wilderness medical training. While the Wilderness First Aid course is a 2-day affair, they offer several other in-depth courses: a Wilderness First Responder course that runs 10 days and goes very deep into dealing with medical issues in the wild; a Wilderness Advanced First Aid course that runs 5 days; a Wilderness EMT course that runs 20 days; and several other options as well.

Most of these advanced courses are designed for people who are working in the outdoors for a living. These might include expedition leaders, smoke jumpers, wilderness survival guides, or others. Many of these classes require that you have at least a basic understanding of medical terminology and techniques, and the scenarios that this organization offers are some of the most true-to-life examples of what you might find yourself in should the worst happen.

photo courtesy stevepb, 8/26/2015. Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/users/stevepb-282134/

Wrap Up

Being prepared when you go tent camping doesn’t just include having shelter and food, but it also means being prepared to address scrapes, cuts, sprains, and perhaps even more intense injuries. You can make life better by having some basic first aid supplies in your gear at all times, and by making sure it is restocked regularly so that you don’t end up not having what you need. Additionally, by being prepared, you are able to lend aid to those around you who do not have training and/or supplies. What about you, are you prepared? What classes have you taken, and how do you encourage others to become certified in First Aid or CPR?

Got some feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, send me an email or share it on social media! Happy Tent Camping!

NOTE: Find out more about CPR/AED and First Aid classes near you by looking on the American Red Cross website: www.redcross.org. To learn more about the Wilderness First Aid courses and other courses by NOLS, please visit their website: www.nols.edu

Featured Image photo courtesy Caleb Wood, 11/9/2017.  Photo was taken from: https://www.pexels.com/@caleb-wood-229552

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