First Aid

Saving Lives: Medical MacGyvers

Use what you have at any given moment to alleviate a medical emergency in the backcountry.

Medical MacGyvers

Stop bleeding

  • Apply direct, firm pressure with a bulky dressing and the heel of your gloved hand for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Tie a wide, flat wrap around the wound to keep pressure. Knot it directly over the dressing.
  • If possible, elevate the wound above heart level.
  • Apply pressure to the nearest supply artery: the upper arm (brachial), leg (femoral), or knee (popliteal).
  • Promote clotting: Keep the victim still and leave wound-contacting padding in place.
  • Last resort: Tighten a wide-bandage tourniquet above the wound. Loosen hourly to check for clotting and limit application to six hours.

Close an open wound

  • Clean and dry the injury.
  • Use adhesive strips to pull skin together: Adhere two strips simultaneously to either side of the wound and pull them across the cut, closing the skin. Strips should be one half-inch apart.
  • Reinforce strips and cover the wound with antibiotic ointment and a clean, dry dressing.
  • Don’t close these wound types: gaping, infected, or open for 18 hours or more.

Soothe burns

  • Remove hot/burning material.
  • Flush with cool water for at least 10 minutes. Do not use ice.
  • Leave blisters intact; disinfect and treat wounded skin to prevent infection and fluid loss.
  • Hydrate the patient; dehydration is a complicating side effect.
  • Give anti-inflammatories.