Saving Lives: Medical MacGyvers
Use what you have at any given moment to alleviate a medical emergency in the backcountry.
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- 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.
- 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.