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Backpacker Magazine – November 2009

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Evacuate or Wait for Rescue?

Your buddy just slid down a steep scree and broke his leg. Should you go for help–or haul him out? It's a tough call. The answer depends on several factors. Here's how to decide.

by: Buck Tilton, Illustrations by Supercorn

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LEARN MORE
The Ultimate First-Aid Manual
Wilderness Medicine Institute cofounder Buck Tilton boils down a lifetime's worth of experience into 62 tips

Photo Tutorials: First Aid Center
From splinting a broken leg to duct taping a bloody wound, the BACKPACKER First Aid Center is an invaluable resource for backcountry first aid.

Your buddy just slid down a steep scree slope and broke his leg. Should you go for help–or haul him out? It's a tough call. The answer depends on several factors. Here's how to decide.

How bad is it? Patients with life-threatening injuries should usually stay put and wait for trained medical professionals; those with less serious injuries can walk or be carried out. If the patient can handle it, walking out is the best option.

How far is the trailhead? One fit hiker can move a lot faster than a group carrying a litter. If you're deep in the wilderness, a messenger might bring back help before you could carry the patient out.

Can the rescuer(s) handle it? You'll need strength, stamina, and skill to navigate the terrain with an injured person in tow.

What's the weather like? Stay put if severe weather puts the rescuers in danger of getting lost or injuring themselves.

Is there imminent danger? Even severely injured patients might need to be moved if the current location is unsafe–e.g., lightning is striking or you're on an unstable slope.


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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Jul 29, 2013

Evacuate but don't become a missing hiker! Stay found by packing your own personal safety net; a copy of "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart" (Amazon) and a compass! Before you go, be sure to calibrate your compass for the declination at the location where you will be hiking. Go to: http://magnetic-declination.com. A compass doesn't need satellites, a signal, or batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Learn how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart". The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking. Learn to stay found day or night by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. Learn what to pack for a day-hike, what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing (for the car and for the trail) just in case you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors.

Jessicya1252
Sep 07, 2012

What is the best way to Evac a person larger than you if you are alone?

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