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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.

If you've decided to evacuate, stabilize the patient and make sure he's warm, comfortable, and hydrated. Here are three rescue methods.

Backpack Carry
Best for One rescuer carrying a smaller, lighter patient
Technique Unzip the sleeping bag compartment on a pack. Have the patient get in the pack by sticking his legs through the unzipped compartment, cutting holes to fit if necessary. The rescuer then shoulders the pack with the patient in it.

Two-person Pole Carry
Best for Two rescuers moving over relatively easy terrain
Technique Tape or bind two ski poles, trekking poles, or sturdy branches together. Attach them to the bottoms of the rescuer's backpacks using their ice-axe loops, compression straps, and extra webbing (you can also slide the poles between the rescuer's backs and their packs, on top of the hipbelts). Place a folded sleeping pad or extra clothing on the poles to make a seat. Have the patient sit on it with his arms over the shoulders of each rescuer.

Stretcher
Best for Groups of at least six (at least four to carry the litter, two to clear and scout the trail) over short distances
Technique Turn the sleeves of two (or more) jackets or T-shirts inside out, zip them up, and lay them on the ground, hem to hem. Slide two sturdy branches or skis through the sleeves (they should be about two feet longer than the patient). Place the patient on the jackets and have rescuers grab the branches and lift.


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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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