A must have for every serious trekker, this is one of those essential items that one must always carry but hope never to use it. The first aid kit must remain in your backpack at all times though. Outdoor or wilderness first aid kits are different from the standard first aid kits available mostly for household use. These standard first aid kits focus mainly on comforting the affected person before emergency services arrive. On a trek, far from civilization and where it can days for medical help to arrive, these first aid kits are not enough. A wilderness first aid kit is what you must carry along to the mountains. It is important to have at least one person in your trekking group to be trained in first aid or wilderness medicine to put the outdoor first aid kit to good use.
Pre-assembled first aid kits are common in the US and most European countries. Indian adventurists do not have such convenient options however. Even if a readymade kit is available, putting together your own kit is the best way to go about it. The first aid kit can be prepared keeping in mind the area in which you will be trekking, number of trekkers in the group, trek duration and special medical needs or prescribed medicines for the trekkers.
Remember the first point I made at the very beginning of this blog. Your aim should be to never have to use your first aid kit. This can be easily done by recognising your limits and not trying anything risky. Most trekkers underestimate the effects of high altitude which can prove very costly. Be aware of the common problems associated, especially with high altitude trekking. Sunburns, dehydration, headache, nausea, Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS – try to avoid these common illness by trekking cautiously and not pushing beyond your limits.
Based on the first aid courses I have attended and medical training received during climbing expeditions, I have compiled a list of contents that should ideally form part of your wilderness first aid kit.
This is no authority on what a first aid kit should contain, but the section below gives a good idea for those making their first aid kit by themselves.
wildmed.com, wildmedcenter.com, treksafe.com.au and ravenrescue.com are some sites referred to for information on this topic. Items not available in India have been removed or replaced with locally available variants and medicines for Himalayan trekkers in specific have been included.
Basic First Aid
Carry all first aid items in either a waterproof toiletries bag or a zip lock packet. I have been using a first aid kit pouch from WildCraft and it has served me well over the years.
Link below is for the excel sheet version of the first aid kit contents shown in the above picture.
IMPORTANT, Please Note:
Good to have in First Aid Kit:
In addition to the essentials listed above, these are a few items that can come handy in certain situations:
Survival accessories that can be added to your first aid kit:
Always remember though that the best of gear is useless without the proper knowledge required to use it. Same applies to the first aid kit. Do not carry stuff you don’t know how to use. Do not use what you have carried if unsure about it, unless there it is an emergency. A trained first aid practitioner should be the one to use the first aid kit when necessary.
What first aid supplies have bailed you out when in need? Comment and share your experiences with us.