In this blog we’ll look at First Aid kits for those working in higher risk occupations or who are involved with outdoor sports, and adventure sports. There are plenty of programmes on TV showing the ambulance service responding to serious injuries; injuries where seconds do count, and if a first aider is going to stop that bleeding, they will need more than a plaster!
You will want a First Aid kit that includes the standard items which we covered in the previous blog.
- PPE – (Gloves, Face-coverings)
- Sterile water
- Guaze swabs
- Microporous Tape
- Plaster dressings (various sizes)
- Triangular bandage
- Roller Bandages
- Ambulance Dressings
This list is neither definitive nor exhaustive. Remember that the items that are contained in your First Aid kit are those that have been identified as being necessary following a First Aid Needs Risk Assessment.
Trauma Dressings and Tourniquets
These are specialist items ideal for those who work with glass, angle-grinders, chain-saws and any other type of large cutting equipment. A wound from any of the above items can prove fatal very quickly. If your risk assessment suggests that you need this type of kit, then make sure you also get trained in how to use it. Those who work with chain-saws should have on their person a specialist trauma kit to include:
- Scissors (medical grade)
- Specialist trauma dressing (Israeli dressing, Modular dressing, Blast dressing)
- Haemostatic guaze
- Marker Pen
With the Forestry First Aid (+F) courses run by Decisive First Aid, all the candidates get to practice with all of the haemorrhage control dressings and devices listed above. The courses that Decisive First Aid run are very practical in nature which is what you are paying for.
Cool packs provide cooling to an injury such as a muscle tear or damaged ligaments or other soft tissue injury. By reducing swelling, they help to reduce pain. Cool packs should only be used for 15-20minutes at a time, every three or four hours, for up to 72 hours. Organisations that tend to make effective use of cool packs are clubs that are involved with contact sports. This is a classic example of making sure the First Aid kit meets the needs of the organisation. As per your training, you should know never to put something ice-cold against the skin.
Group Shelters (aka Bothy Bags)
Technically speaking these wont be going into your First Aid kit, but if you work or play in the great outdoors, then this piece of kit can be a real life saver. It’s basically a tent without any poles. The larger group shelters can protect 8, maybe more, people from the elements. With any accident outdoors there is the real danger of hypothermia which can affect the patient and the rest of the team.
The group shelter will provide protection from the wind and rain, and because you are all huddled in there together, the air temperature quickly rises providing protection from hypothermia.
Due to Covid19 it is not recommended for people outside of a ‘bubble’ share a group shelter. Despite that, even with just the patient in a group shelter they will benefit massively from the protection that it offers.
As well as the group shelter you should look to pack a flask of hot drink, or take a stove to make one. Also take some food, and some spare warm clothing for cold environments. Think about your environment, your location, and your distance to safety so that you can protect yourself as best you can before setting off.
SAM splints (other makes are available) are compact light weight, relatively cheap, robust splints that can be shaped to give support and protection to an injured limb. They even have printed diagrams on the side to show you how they can be applied to either an arm or a leg. Once moulded to the shape you want, all you need to do is secure it to the limb. I use a roller bandage. As well as protecting the limb from further injury, the support they give can also help reduce pain. These type of splint don’t weigh much or take up much space which is why you may have seen them being used by an air ambulance crew on one of those TV programmes.
As a paramedic I’ve seen the occasional improvised splint. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Trust me, if you work somewhere remote such as in forestry work, or out in the countryside, spending a few pounds on a quality piece of specialist kit is the way to go. They are also ideal for those who take part in adventure sports.
We could cover this as a separate blog by itself as there have been so many innovations. Obviously if you’re working somewhere remote you will need some way of raising the alarm. Mobile phone is just one option but relies on having a good signal. A text message requires less of a signal but you need to register for this service. Text ‘register’ to 999 and follow their instructions when their reply.
For those who work or play by water there is ch16 on a VHF radio that can be used to raise the alarm. There are various flares, both pyrotechnic and electronic, that can be used in an emergency.
Tick removal Device
Again, this is one for those who work in the countryside. Some ticks carry bacteria that can lead to Lyme’s disease. The best protection is to wear suitable clothing and stick to paths to minimise your risk of being bitten. If you find a tick that has latched onto you, then a tick-removal device or fine pointed tweezers are what you will need to remove it safely,
Tweezers don’t take up much space or weight but can be useful for removing ticks or removing splinters, and a host of other minor fiddly jobs.
Remember that the contents of your First Aid box are determined by your First Aid Needs Assessment, not by the HSE. If from your assessment, you decide a piece of kit is needed to keep your team protected in the event of an incident, then include it.
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