Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

Going to nature means, inevitably, that you are facing hostile nature and environment. Injuries and accidents can happen much more often compared to those that occur in the city. Injuries, bites, hypothermia, drowning, broken bones, etc. They are much more common among outdoor enthusiasts.

Knowing some basic and basic rules for giving first aid to an injured person can save lives. In case you are alone, your own abilities can help you (as long as you are conscious). Of course, it is always advisable to always go out to nature with a person, friend or trusted relative, in case someone needs emergency medical attention.

In this article, we will give you basic information on how to perform different first aid techniques depending on the situation. As these are limited guidelines, it is strongly recommended that you visit a complete first aid course. In any case, as long as you know the basics, they can be applied in a variety of unexpected situations and help save lives.

First aid guide for various injuries.


Burning is quite common, especially during the summer. Sunburn is considered first degree burns. The second degree is skin burns to some extent when blisters appear.

It is necessary to use sterile water to clear the injured area. It is also very important to keep the place cool. Always use cold water (to wash the wound and with sterilized water). Even if the skin is no longer in contact with the heat source, the burn will continue inside the tissues of the skin. That is why it is very important to immediately apply cold water, towels soaked in water, etc. Basically, keep the area cool.

Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

Third-degree burns are dangerous and can cause severe dehydration and major damage to the person (especially if a large area of ​​skin is burned). Again, apply cold water and wrap the wound with a clean sterilized bandage. The burned area will be first pale or black. If there is tissue or bandage attached to the wound later, do not pull it. It can damage the healing area and cause bleeding. Give plenty of water to the injured person, since dehydration occurs quickly.

It is also important to keep in mind that if the injured person has molten clothes on their burnt skin, they should never try to take off those clothes. These procedures will be performed by medical professionals.

Evaluate breathing

There may be several reasons why a person can not breathe. The person may have hung on a piece of food, been saved from drowning, or suffered other injuries that obstruct the passage of breathing.

First, determine if the person has trouble breathing. If he or she is choking, you can do the following technique:

Grab the person from behind. Make a fist with one hand, place it under the rib cage and over the navel. Grasp the fist with the other hand and press on the stomach and rib cage, squeezing to help eliminate the obstruction. This technique is dangerous if performed on younger people, as it can cause fractures of bones and ribs. If a child is suffocating, place them face down. With one hand, open your mouth carefully and with the other hand hit your back, with enough force to eliminate the blockage, but be careful not to damage the child / baby even more.

Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

If you can not understand the reason why a person can not breathe, lie them on the floor on their backs, open their mouths and tilt their head back. Often, people suffocate because their tongue obstructs the flow of air and blocks the passage of air. If you tilt your head back so that your chin is up, your tongue will be naturally relaxed (since it is a muscle) and will move from the passage of air. If the person is still not breathing, you may have to perform first aid by word of mouth.

Do not do the above if the person suffers damage to the neck or spine. Any movement, if that is the case, can further harm the person.

In case of a drowning incident, and if the person is not breathing, be sure to cover it to cover it (to keep it warm since hypothermia attacks quickly). Also, if there are other people around, tell them quickly to keep a safe distance from you and the victim.

Tilt your head only slightly back and perform mouth-to-mouth help. Apply strong chest pressures to force air into the lungs. Do this a few times and repeat the word-of-mouth technique. If this does not help the person after up to 10 repetitions, transport quickly to the nearest medical center.

You can also try to place the person on one side with the top of the leg bent at 90 degrees and the bottom of the leg straight. The hands should be in a fetal position, close to the face. This position also helps the passage of the breath to open.


Bleeding injuries are also very common and may occur along with other injuries such as burns, broken bones, etc. Before attending the other injury, you may need to stop the bleeding first. The loss of too much blood is dangerous enough.

In this section we will talk about external bleeding.

Apply pressure on the wound area while washing. Clean the wound with sterile handkerchiefs and wrap it with a sterile bandage. If the wound is not too large, you can massage a sterilizing ointment before bandaging. The person should lie down and not move. If you can, place the injured area above the level of the heart. The blood circulation decreases and less blood is pumped to the injured area. This minimizes blood loss.

Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

If the damage is severe, a shock may also occur. You must treat the injured person, keep them warm and give them water to avoid dehydration. Be careful and gentle. Shock is a common condition for victims who suffer severe and psychologically difficult to handle injuries. The person loses all control over their emotions and needs special care, patience and a quiet area to rest.

We must also mention that if the wound is in the head or neck area, you must be careful not to apply pressure on the wound. Also, if you are away from civilization for more than a day (you can get lost), you must tend to the wound. Wash at least twice a day with sterile water and change the dressings for new, clean and sterilized ones. If there is an infection, clean it more often with water with antibiotics and apply an antibiotic cream or ointment. Changing the dressing is so important, so do not re-apply the old one after washing the wound.

Another important note is to always remember to clean the exposed wound with sterile water. If you do not have it in your first aid kit, you may need to boil some water and use it. Otherwise, never use river water directly on the wound, as there may be viruses, germs, etc. present in the water.


This condition occurs when the person loses body heat too quickly for it to be restored. The reasons for hypothermia are too many to list here, but some are dehydration, exposure to low temperatures for a long time, lack of sleep, nutrient deficiency due to hunger for more than a day or two, etc.

To successfully treat hypothermia, the person needs to reach a warmer area immediately (tent, building, etc.). If you can, quickly massage the entire body of the person to activate the body’s natural heat reserves. Give the person a hot drink (ideally only the water will serve). Do not give them drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.) or alcoholic beverages. These promote greater hypothermia.

It is possible that the person’s clothing is wet (either by contact with water or after sweating), so you should remove it immediately. Replace wet clothing with hot clothes and allow the person to enter a warm sleeping bag. If you do not have a sleeping bag, wrap the person with whatever blankets you have. Even a tarp can help isolate body heat and help fight hypothermia. Make sure the person is not in contact with any cold (and / or humid) area, floor, wall, etc.

If the condition is more severe than normal, the person must be gradually warmed up. Begin changing clothes, then add warm bottles and place them around the abdomen and armpits. Slowly add more heat and give him hot drinks later.

If possible, fire nearby to generate more heat in the area.


This can be as dangerous as skin burned by heat. Freezing is basically an area burned by extreme cold. The cells are damaged by sharp ice crystals to an irreparable degree, especially if the skin is exposed for too long. Many times, if the skin is frozen and then blisters appear, the skin can repair and heal over time (although scars may remain).

Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

If it is possible to quickly reach a medical center (within 2 to 3 hours), then you do not have to treat and treat the freezing. If this is not possible, you should keep the constant heat applied to the damaged area (approximately 40-42 degrees C / 104-108 degrees F).

You can use water to submerge the area in it, but change it often, as it will cool very quickly. Remember that the area is frozen, so it has to melt gradually. The warmer area can cause pain and even burn the damaged area. If you managed to defrost the area safely, the blisters may begin to form. Do not try to blow them up, or you risk causing an infection. Let them stay, as they also protect the area and show how it heals. Also, do not rub the area, this can further damage the skin or the injured cells.

When wrapping the area with a sterile bandage, be sure to keep it loose and not tight, as this will slow the healing process and may even cause some damage (due to pressure) on the frozen skin.

The bites

It is often the case that you may end up face to face with a snake. Snakebites can be deadly and should be treated immediately (or as soon as possible) with the medication against the corresponding poison. There are many myths about the treatment of snake bites, such as sucking venom from the wound, incisions, etc., but it is proven that they do not work (or, if they work, in very limited situations).

First, when you see that the snake is immediately removed at a safe distance from it, it must be at least the length of the snake’s body. If you can, take a picture of that. In case of being bitten and transferred to a hospital, you can show the photo to the staff and they will know immediately what anti venom to use without losing precious time.

Otherwise, if you are not prepared with anti-poison in your first aid kit, you should go directly to the hospital. Do not try to do anything alone. The least you can do is make a splint to isolate the bitten area, so that the poison does not spread quickly.

Spine / head injuries

These situations can be the most difficult to handle. If a person suffers an injury to the spine or neck, you should first try to restrict all movements of the head. If you can not do it without really moving your head or neck, do nothing. Call a rescue team immediately to save you.

All you can do is watch the victim. Make sure they can breathe safely. If possible, place the head very gently so that the person can breathe. Again, do things very slowly and gently. Do not do any of this quickly, especially when dealing with head and spinal injuries.

Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

If the victim only suffers a head injury (without damage to the spine) and loses consciousness, be sure to continue breathing while unconscious. Meanwhile, observe them carefully and when the person wakes up, move them quickly to a hospital. Even if they are awake and conscious does not mean that the head injury was not anything serious (even if there is no blood around the injury).

During transport, observe the person in search of anything abnormal and unnatural: strange movements, fluid coming from the nose, unevenly disaggregated pupils, seizures, vomiting, etc.


The first thing you should do immediately is immobilize the fractured limb. This will protect the surrounding tissue from any possible additional damage. If you know how to make a splint that would be the best, especially for major fractures (not just sprains).

If there is bleeding along with the fracture, you must first stop the bleeding. Apply gentle pressure around the bleeding wound. If the area is small and there are visible impurities (dust or soil particles, etc.), wash them with sterilized water and tie a bandage around them. Never try to remove or push the bonded bones. This can cause additional damage to the surrounding tissue.

Then you may have to make a splint. Then, take two straight rigid objects (for example, ski, sticks / sticks, etc.). Place them around the fracture and tighten them firmly (not too much) using a belt, handkerchiefs, paracordes, ropes, etc. – what you have on hand. The idea is to avoid any movement until the victim receives professional medical attention.

Because the fractured area will swell, due to inflammation, it will begin to hurt a lot. You must administer painkillers to the victim until you receive more help.

Optionally, you can prevent excessive swelling by placing cold water (soaked towels) on the fracture. Also, keep the leg or arm in a raised state to prevent blood from accumulating in the injury (and, therefore, swelling).

The first aid kit

This is just an approximate guide on what you should have in your first aid kit. Having the necessary elements is as important as knowing how to perform first aid.

Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

The most important articles to prepare are:

  • Wound dressings (breathable)
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Adhesive
  • Bandages
  • Analgesics
  • Medications that you or your partner take regularly
  • Antihistamines
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Needle and thread (to sew wounds, if you know how).
  • Small scissors
  • Chiffon rolls (or pads)
  • Tweezers (to remove small splinters, like spines)
  • Blister patches
  • Povidone-iodine (to make a sterile solution)

How to ask for help

Even if some of the above techniques help to revive and save an injured person, you still have to call for an emergency. The injury may be contained for a while, but still may cause long-term damage. Any incident that occurs that could endanger one’s life, call the Red Cross or the local rescue team, and then try to provide some first aid.

Sometimes you may have to act immediately and you should not waste precious seconds, so you must act on the spot. After the person has revived, call emergency. If the person does not revive in 10 minutes, call emergency. In case of a head or spinal injury, call emergency immediately, do nothing if possible (unless you have to help the person breathe).

If you do not have a phone or do not have a mobile connection, yell or use a whistle if you have one. If you also have a mirror, use it to get attention. To indicate that you need help, you have to make three shots, either with your whistle or with a flare gun. Do the same with the mirror: three flashes one after the other.

Wilderness First Aid: How to Treat Common Injuries And Request Help

Another way to get attention is to light a fire and use it. During the day the smoke will attract attention. During the night, the light of the fire will be the necessary signal.

Before hiking / trekking / camping, write down all the emergency telephones you can contact (if you have a battery and a mobile phone that works). Mark on your map all the itineraries in the areas you will visit; If you are near, you can go there and ask for help. Never camp / walk without extra batteries, both for your mobile phone and for any flashlight you can carry. They may be your only way of asking for help.

If the area you are in puts you or your companions (and all injured people) in danger, you must first move to a safer place.

Also, act as quickly as possible if there are signs of mental or health deterioration, decreased heart rate, gradual loss of consciousness, serious head injury or even skull fracture. Other conditions that require you to act quickly are:

  • infections that get worse
  • Severe fractures that deform the normal position of the limb (s).
  • Severe hypothermia (and advanced hypernatremia: the body produces too much heat and can cause damage to the internal organs and cause death, this condition overloads the heart)
  • Injuries to the chest or abdomen (or heavy bleeding in the abdomen or chest area)
  • high altitude brain edema (HACE): severe inflammation of the brain that can cause death in a matter of hours if left unattended
  • long-lasting seizures (more than 5-10 minutes)
  • Open wounds, that can not be closed or that you are bleeding severely, especially if you can see bones, joints, tendons; other severe open wounds in the facial area; Wounds caused by animals.
  • heart attack or suspected stroke
  • Thunderbolt

Not so urgent conditions, where you must proceed slowly and no emergency is required are:

  • Mild injuries to the head, and the person is conscious and acts normally.
  • mild infections
  • fraction of rib (unless the rib protrudes from your rib cage)
  • joint dislocation
  • mild hypothermia

As long as you follow the instructions above, you should do well. Always carry a mobile phone with you, plus extra batteries, flashlight and flare gun. Write down all emergency phone numbers and all nearby itineraries for immediate help.

In addition to the above guidelines, we recommend that you visit a first aid course. Many of them are made in the field and offer certificates when completed successfully. These trainings are offered by authorized organizations such as the National Outdoors Leadership School (NOLS), the Red Cross, Medical Associates International, etc.


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