An ultimate guide to remote first aid

Heading to the great outdoors often means you are some distance from help and the terrain and conditions are typically more rugged and unpredictable, so it’s essential that you have a fully equipped first aid kit on hand in case of emergencies regardless of how familiar you are with the area.

Emergency services will typically take much longer to respond to an incident when it is in a remote location. Because of this, it is paramount that you have an appropriate first aid kit with you. In serious situations, it can be the difference between a fatality and saving your own or someone else’s life. Along with having the right first aid equipment, you should know how to administer first aid correctly to promote the best outcomes possible.

If you’re heading to a remote location for an adventure soon, here are some tips to ensure you are safe and equipped with everything you need in case of an emergency:

Come up with an emergency response plan

The first step you should be taking when embarking on a remote trip is coming up with an emergency response plan. It may seem excessive but if you do find yourself in trouble in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be so grateful to yourself for taking the time to put these measures in place. Here is how you can do this:

  • Purchase a first aid kit if you haven’t already, and make sure it is fully stocked and suitable for remote-type travel before leaving
  • Have a look at the weather and properly organise your travel routes
  • If you are going with others, ensure you have the right medications (if any) and write down any health conditions if applicable and take them with you
  • In case you get lost, make sure you have enough fresh water and food with you
  • Always give someone you’re not going with your exact location and the route you are taking to get there. Notify them of when they should hear from you, and if you haven’t made contact by a certain time, they should reach out to the authorities for help
  • Ensure some or all people going on the trip have up-to-date first aid and CPR training and appoint one person to be the first aid leader if travelling with others
  • Purchase a high-frequency radio or satellite phone if you haven’t already. This will help you call for emergency assistance when your phone has no signal.

What the first aid leader will be in control of

The role of the first aid leader will be to take control and make decisions if an emergency were to occur. Here are some potential scenarios that may need to be considered:

  1. Is it safe for the patient to be taken to help or do they need immediate medical assistance to come to them?
  2. Does the patient need to see a medical professional or can you administer first aid, and they can continue?
  3. Is the patient at risk of shock? Ensure that you are constantly reassuring them while waiting for help to arrive to prevent this from happening.
  4. Will waiting for help where you are in the current climatical circumstances make their condition deteriorate further or not?
  5. Is the patient’s condition worsening? Are they experiencing new symptoms as time goes on?
  6. Does the casualty need to be moved for safety purposes or are they safe to stay where they are?
  7. Have they had enough to drink? Are they going to the toilet?

Managing trauma – step by step

Assess the situation

The first thing you’ll need to do is assess the situation and the seriousness of it. At this point, you’ll need to determine whether you need to call for emergency help or not.

Look for signs of danger

Before proceeding to help the patient, you should first look for signs of danger.

You must ensure the area is safe before running in to help, otherwise you risk injury to yourself.

It is perilous and unsafe to approach the casualty if there is a chance that you will get hurt. Call triple zero (000) in this instance, let them know the situation and wait for them to arrive.

See if they are breathing

If it is safe for you to help the casualty, ask them if they can breathe normally. If they are struggling to breathe or their breathing is laboured, you should move them into the recovery position ensuring their airways are clear and open.

Life-threatening bleeding should always be controlled before attempting CPR.

Control bleeding

If the casualty is bleeding heavily, this needs to be controlled. You should have supplies in your remote first aid kit to treat this however, if you don’t, you’ll need to improvise and use anything you have on you that can be utilised to control the bleed. Ripping up a t-shirt is one of the many ways to do this. Depending on the severity of the bleeding, you may need to apply a tourniquet to the limb or apply firm pressure to the area until the bleeding ceases.

Make sure the neck and head are stabilised

To ensure that no further damage is sustained and the patient can breathe comfortably, the head and neck will need to be stabilised if an injury to these areas is suspected.

Do a head-to-toe assessment

Make a thorough assessment of the casualty from head to toe to make sure there are no hidden serious injuries, such as big lesions or fractures. If these are left untreated, the casualties condition can worsen and, it can become serious quickly. You need to know where all obvious injuries are so you can treat them accordingly.

Are your first aid skills dusty?

No doubt about it, some of the most beautiful places in Australia are in remote locations and if you intend on exploring them, ensure that you are up to date with your first aid and CPR training. You’d hope you’ll never have to use them but if you do it can be a lifesaver. Additionally, you should never travel to remote locations without a fully equipped remote first aid kit. You can find them on our website at The First Aid Shop.

DISCLAIMER: This is general information ONLY and shouldn’t be used in place of real-life training and course completions.

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