A lot depends on where you're going, what you're doing, how long you plan to be in the mountains, and the weather. There are a lot of variables, and the bottom line is that you really cannot
make a medical kit that you can always keep handy and throw it in your pack, unless you always do one thing consistently (like day hikes or bouldering or short rock climbs.)
First, there's the minimalist approach: duct tape and a bivi gear. If duct tape won't fix the problem, then it's likely that the victim will be stuck while you go get help. You'll need something to keep the victim warm and dry and insulated from the ground while you're gone.
If I am going to carry more gear, then I start with the basics: what are the most likely problems? For climbers and hikers, it is cuts, scraps, sprains and fractures. So I start with bandages, betadine solution, peroxide, tape, butteryfly bandages, elastic wraps, splinting material. How much to take? Depends on how much room you have in the pack. If there are plenty of sticks where I'm going, then I don't take splints.
Don't forget personal protective equipment like Nitrile gloves.
Also consider area- or sport-specific needs. In New Mexico, you need tweezers to remove cactus needles. If I'm skiing deep in the backcountry, I carry webbing to convert a ski pole into a femur traction splint, and we also take at least one sled in case we need to drag someone out.
Airway devices, cervical spine splints, etc? Not really practical, except in certain situations. If you're rock-climbing along a road, then you can carry a fairly large medical kit in your car. Sure, then keep OPAs, c-collars, oxygen, etc. if you are trained to use the stuff. You'll need a cell phone, too, because if you're trained well enough to use more advanced gear to keep someone alive who would otherwise die, then you'd better get them evacuated STAT.
It's not really practical to carry CPR masks or OPAs or other airway devices deep in the backcountry. If your victim is so bad that they require such a device, forget it, they're dead. You can't do rescue breathing for 2 days straight. If all they need is quick, temporary rescue breathing support (say, following a concussion), then you can manage without the fancy devices.
But hey, if you want to carry a million-pound pack with all the toys, then knock yourself out.
I'll end this with an anecdote.
I was free-soloing Coonyard Pinnacle on Glacier Point Apron one fine summer day about 35 years ago, wearing EB rock shoes and knickers. Unfortunately, I was showered with some rockfall but I wasn't wearing a helmet. A cantelope-sized block grazed my left temple and about knocked me out. The amount of blood loss was staggering.
I tried to keep pressure on the wound with one hand, but I couldn't down climb with only one hand. Everytime I let go of the wound to down climb, I was blinded by profuse bleeding. Fearful that I was going to pass out while I was still 200 feet off the ground, I descended as fast as I could.
When I reached the ground at the bottom of the slab, a big fat tourist popped out of the woods, huffing and puffing on the verge of heart attack. He opened up his day pack and pulled out a large olive-drab Army battle dressing. He said that he had been carrying the battle dressing in his day pack for twenty years "in case of an emergency", but he never had the chance to actually use it. Gleefully, he tied the bandage around my head and sent me off down the talus to seek medical care.
Next time you see me, I'll show you my scar. Since I no longer comb a full head of hair, the scar is very obvious.
And just to reassure you, no, I do not wear knickers anymore.
climberslacker wrote:Hey guys,
I was recently first on scene to a possible spinal injury in the mountians, but luckuly we were very close to a ranger station, so I had help within 10 minutes. But it made me wonder, what i could have done to be more prepared. Obviously I wont be bringing a C-collar, or a spine board or a stokes, but all I had was a sleeping bag (even though i was on a day hike, I always have one in winter), and a small first aid kit with one roll of gauze and a couple of 4x4s. I also had a thermarest and a pair of nitrile gloves. This was taking place in the snow, and so one of the people who was working in the nearby building rushed out a synthetic bag (helpful because I was still doing a initial assesment) and a pad that I could kneel on while holding c-spine. Ive been thinking of other things that I should have had for this, or possible a worse injury in the mountians. Im thinking maybe a cpr mask, and MAYBE a set of the most common sizes of OPAs but am not sure on the OPAs. Is there anything that you could think of that would be useful in an emergency situation that I don't have?