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Outdoor emergency preparedness

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POSTED February 7, 2011 1:02 a.m.
I believe the outdoors is remarkably safe, yet no matter what you do, there are risks involved. It doesn’t matter if you are commuting to work, or driving a forklift on the job, teaching in a classroom, there are risks involved & you could get hurt. You & I are probably much more likely to get in an auto accident, or slip & fall at work than we are likely to get injured while out fishing, hunting, or hiking. The difference is that outdoor pursuits are often solitary in nature and you are often in a remote location far from medical help. Thus some simple first aid suggestions are in order for those who spend time in the outdoors.

Some of the stuff is obvious, like: get basic first aid training, know how to swim, and keeping a first aid kit handy. Some of the stuff is a little more esoteric like carrying a snake bite kit, a signal mirror, or colored smoke bombs for identification & rescue in remote locations. With the advent of cell phones, reliable walkie talkies, and GPS units you can often call for help electronically. Don’t expect a cell phone to work in the bottom of a Sierra canyon, but if you can get quickly enough to a ridge top it’s amazing how far a cell phone can reach.

Remember the old snake bite kit with the rubber suction cups?  They were standard gear for outdoors enthusiasts for almost a hundred years. I guess the old suction cup kit would still be better than nothing, but technology has once again come to the rescue in the form of an invention called “The Extractor” it is a lightweight plastic plunger with interchangeable sized cups to fit fingers, wrists or hands or almost any other body part likely to get snakebit. They are simple to use (even one handed) and produce so much suction they literally suck the venom right back out thru the bite hole where the snake bit you. None of the old slash & suck nonsense that disfigured you & drove doctors crazy, just quick simple effective treatment.

I know it’s a form of mental illness, but for several decades now I have gone out afield to catch live rattlesnakes. I wear snake proof leggings that cover me from ankle to knee, and use a mechanical grabber to pick the snakes up with & put them into the collection sack. Still, there is a chance that one day I’m gonna make a mistake & get bit.  Naturally I carry my Extractor at all times & while it is not yet medically recognized, I also carry a 50,000 volt stun gun for snakebite. To my knowledge there have never been any official scientific studies that recognize the efficacy of high voltage shock in treating venomous bites. Still I have run into numerous examples of what doctor’s call “anecdotal evidence” that such treatment might save your life. The theory is that venomous bites have an electrical charge which is opposite the charge carried by normal tissue, and that high voltage dc current nutralizes the charge of the venom which then is harmlessly eliminated.  BE ADVISED that this theory is not scientifically proven & I don’t recommend that you try it. I have run this theory by several physicians and the general response is that it probably won’t help, but if you want to shock the snot out of your hand, ankle etc, it probably won’t kill you.

One of the most important ideas of all is that you have to carry your first aid gear with you. I keep a complete first aid kit in my truck at all times and then carry the extractor and a smaller first aid kit with me when I’m away from the vehicle. Over the years it has come in really handy. A couple years ago my son & I watched an ATV rider plunge off a steep road & fall about 25 feet to land in a treetop. He was pretty badly cut up & the first aid kit got a real workout that day.  If you should get injured in the wilderness try to remember that you’re not a doctor & just apply temporary first aid and seek professional medical help as quickly as possible.  I also carry an emergency sterile suture kit in case of a serious laceration. I’m not a doctor & have never used the suture kit, nor do I want to. I have, however, seen houndsmen sew shut the slashes that an angry bear inflicted on a dog. Should your vet be the one to stitch up your dog? Absolutely, but if you’re 50 miles by road at the bottom of a canyon & your dog is bleeding profusely, you may not have a choice.

If you don’t have first aid training, call the Red Cross & get it, if you don’t have a good first aid kit get one & carry it. If you’re going to be in snake country, get ‘the Extractor & carry it. The great outdoors is a wonderful place to be and you’re probably safer afield than in the heart of a major city but a few precautions can reap lifesaving benefits. Don’t let me scare you into avoiding the outdoors. By all means get out there & enjoy it, but take some sensible precautions, & enjoy some peace of mind too.

Until Next Week

Tight Lines
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