When to Evacuate |First-Aid Essentials
Backcountry rescues can be hard, costly, and slow. But making the call to get outside help can prevent significant pain and discomfort—and possibly save a life. If a patient can walk out on his own, that’s almost always the best option. Use this chart to help guide your decision-making process.
|Rush if…||Relax if…|
|NO||Evidence of cerebral or pulmonary edema is present (altered mental status, headache, dry cough, chest pain).||Patient
recovers fully upon descent from altitude.
|Anaphylaxis||YES||Continued exposure risk exists; respiratory problems persist.||Reaction did not include respiratory distress.|
|NO||Signs of hypoglycemia (reduced responsiveness, cool/clammy skin, rapid heart rate) do not improve with treatment; hyperglycemia develops due to incorrect insulin use.||Patient recovers fully after ingesting glucose or adjusting insulin.|
|Dislocation||NO||Reduction efforts are
continuously unsuccessful; other joint or bone injuries exist.
|Only involved digits; patient has dislocation history.|
|NO||Body temperature hits 104°F; temperature of 102°F lasts longer than 72 hours; any reduction of responsiveness.||Patient recovers with rest and hydration.|
|Fracture||YES||There’s an open or unstable fracture; femur, hip, or pelvis involvement; decreased circulation, sensation, or movement.||Pain is minimal or manageable with available meds.|
|Head Injury||YES||Any reduction in responsiveness; signs of serious head injury exist (skull fracture, seizure, balance problems, vision changes lasting longer than one hour).||Patient
responsiveness returns to
|Heat Illnesses||NO||Unable to reduce patient’s temperature; any reduction of responsiveness; patient relapses.||No reduction
|Hypothermia||NO||Hypothermia reduces responsiveness or shivering stops due to cold; signs or symptoms of frostbite are present.||Patient fully recovers;
no reduction in responsiveness.
|Seizure||Yes||Incident was a patient’s first seizure; multiple seizures occur in quick succession; seizure cause is unknown.||Patient’s seizures are being managed; history is on record.|