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A BRIEF OUTLINE OF SAVING A LIFE IN THE WILDERNESS. THIS WAS WRITTEN BY MATTHEW ROSEFSKY, A WILDERNESS MEDICINE EXPERT. MATT OWNS SOLO MEDIC, A WILDERNESS MEDICAL SCHOOL THAT OFFERS THE MOST IN-DEPTH WILDERNESS
FIRST AID CLASS AVAILABLE.
WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND TAKING THE CLASS WHICH IS OFFERED IN MANY US STATES THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
How to Save a Life in the Wilderness
Matthew Rosefsky (Grad ’03, GSBA ’03) is general manager of the Outdoor Adventure Social Club of Greater Charlottesville and a wilderness medicine instructor for Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities.
Step-by-step rescue recipe
We think of “wilderness” as a place of tranquility to which we escape. But the dangers of being in wilderness can also be thrust upon us due to natural disaster or terrorism. Ever been among the first to arrive at a crash or injury scene, desperately wanting to help out but having no idea what to do?
First, size up the scene. Is it safe? Is the patient in imminent danger, such as from falling objects, or bikes coming blindly around the bend, such that immediate evacuation or blocking off a hiking trail is in order?
Second, as you approach the patient but before you arrive, form a general impression. What happened? What appear to be the major concerns? Might the patient be at risk of spinal cord injury? If yes, ensure that the patient does not move, especially his or her head—including nods of “yes” or “no.”
Third, protect yourself from others’ body fluids. Carry and use medical gloves.
Fourth, briefly communicate with the patient as you approach. How responsive is he or she? What happened? Does he want your help? What is his chief complaint?
Go through the ABCDEs
Run through the ABCDEs of life-threatening conditions—in strict order of fastest killers first—immediately treating any problems you discover along the way.
Airway: Open the patient’s mouth, check for and remove solid or drain liquid blockages.
Breathing: Look, listen and feel for breathing rate and quality. Assist inadequate breaths using a CPR face shield or slow down rapid breathing (get the patient’s attention, breathe with him or her and slow the pace of breathing).
Circulation: Check for a pulse at an extremity, then closer in if none is found. Perform CPR if appropriate. Check for and stop any major bleeds.
Deformity or disability: Check for broken bones. Check nervous system functionality by addressing these questions: Can the patient move feet and squeeze hands, evenly? Can he or she feel which toe or finger you’re pinching?
Environment: Get the patient out of the sun, off the cold ground, out of the rain and keep him warm.
For information on upcoming wilderness first aid classes or to have a course scheduled, visit www.outdoorsocial.com/wfa.htm or call 434-760-HIKE (4453).