|Undertaking any journey into the wilderness requires careful preparation. When planning a trip you need to take many factors into account, including what you would do in the case of an accident or illness. Most treatments remain exactly the same for wilderness conditions.
PLANNING A JOURNEY
The following are some of the things that you may like to consider when planning your journey, as well as some questions that you may like to ask yourself. Take a cellular phone but be aware that network coverage may be poor or nonexistent in the area you are visiting.
Is the area that you are visiting suitable for all the abilities in your family or group? An area with reputation for beauty will not necessarily be safe.
Is everyone in your group fit enough to undertake the trip, or is anyone suffering from any injuries or illnesses? If so, does the person have enough medication?
The right clothes
Having the right clothes for the environment that you will be visiting could mean the difference between life and death. Having an outer layer that is windproof, keeps water out, keeps the heat in, and allows sweat to evaporate will help the other layers stay dry and function correctly. The next layers should consist of a fleece-type jumper or jacket. A shirt and underwear made of polypropylene will draw moisture away from the skin. Today’s modern clothing is designed to be functional even when wet and will dry out surprisingly quickly.
Choose footwear that supports your ankle, is waterproofed, and is comfortable and well worn in. This will help prevent sprains, broken bones, and blistering.
Carry first aid and survival equipment suitable for your route.
Planning your route
Ensure that the route is realistically within the ability of your family or group and achievable in the amount of time available. Always tell someone who is not going with you what your route is, who is going, what time you are starting, and what time you will be finishing.
IF FACED WITH A PROBLEM A LONG WAY FROM HELP
If faced with an accident or illness a long way from help, your priorities are:
- To secure the safety of the whole group.
- To treat the injury or illness.
- To obtain help.
- To seek appropriate shelter.
Careful preparation is essential before you set off on your trip.
The biggest decision you will probably have to make relates to obtaining help. If you have not got a cellular phone, or you cannot get a signal, you will have to make alternative arrangements.
If one member of the group is unable to continue, a decision will have to be made to split the group or wait for help as a whole. The decision will depend on a number of factors.
- Popularity of the route and therefore likelihood of passers-by.
- Access to shelter.
- Nature of the injury or illness and the speed at which help is required.
- Skills of group members in survival and navigation.
- Weather conditions.
- Time of day.
If sending people for help, make sure that your equipment is divided appropriately. Ensure that those leaving have a good directions and navigation aids and those remaining have sound shelter. If the weather is poor or it is dark, consider waiting until conditions improve. Instead, seek shelter.
Carrying an injured or ill person for help should be a last resort because it poses risks to both the person being carried and those lifting and moving him. There are a number of ways in which a stretcher can be improvised.
Consider providing extra bandaging support to broken bones—particularly if the injured person needs to be moved.
- Maintaining warmth when treating shock or conditions such as hypothermia may require the creation of shelter. Focus on putting blankets or survival bags under the injured person and covering the head, hands, and feet as well as putting a blanket over him.
- Consider shelter from the sun and the heat and make sure that everyone in the party drinks enough liquid, including the injured person (providing that he is fully conscious).
- Be aware that altitude sickness may develop if you are high in the mountains because of reduced levels of oxygen in the air. Symptoms include tiredness, headache, unsteadiness, and nausea.
- Broken bones, burns, and contusions swell. Continually recheck bandaging to ensure that it is not cutting of circulation. Loosen and retie as necessary.