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Backpacker Magazine – November 2009

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: First Aid Improv

"Be prepared" is a great maxim, but be honest: Who among you packs a SAM splint and an irrigation syringe on every backpacking trip? Fear not–everyday items can serve as medical equipment in a pinch.

by: Buck Tilton, Illustrations by Supercorn

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.

Eat two teaspoons of menthol toothpaste mixed with cold water.

Antibacterial Ointment
Use honey to discourage infection and promote healing. (it's a natural antibacterial agent). Spread it over the surface of minor cuts, burns, abrasions, and frostbite (but not directly in a wound) and cover with gauze.

Cut a thin strip of fabric out of a T-shirt (snip in a circular pattern around the shirt to get the longest dressing possible).

Cervical Collar
No SAM splint? Roll a bulky jacket or fleece, leaving the sleeves out, and wrap it around the patient's neck (see left). Tie it in place with the sleeves. Or cut a foam pad into a collar and tape it in place.

Cold Pack Soak the injury in cold water, or wrap soaked bandannas or cotton T-shirts around the site.

Irrigation Syringe Force water out of a hydration tube or squeeze a zip-top bag with a pinhole poked in it.

Medical Gloves Put your hands inside clean zip-top bags.

Sling Pull the bottom of the patient's short-sleeve shirt up and over the injured arm and pin it to the front with two safety pins. Long-sleeve shirt? Pin the sleeve of the injured arm (with the arm in it) to the shirt.

Wound closure strips Cut 1/4-inch-long strips of duct tape; punch pinholes to let fluid drain.

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Florida Native
Aug 17, 2010

Upset stomache: An old pioneer trick is to grind a coal from your campfire to make a tablespoon of powder, mix it into some water and drink. The charcoal will absorb the stuff upsetting you stomache


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