Hopefully something that we never have to do, but something we must always be prepared for, cheesy, but it’s the way it is. In remote settings it is important we take care of ourself, and the old saying of ‘prevention is better than cure’, couldn’t be truer.
Walking and climbing on the hills and mountains for many years I have seen some spectacular blisters, injuries including sprains and strains, but I am pleased to say (touch wood), I have never had to deal with a serious injury to myself or my group. I believe this is in part, the understanding of my group, myself, and what am I prepared to do to make it a comfortable day without compromising the adventure. Below are some top tips for avoidance of small injuries.
- Wear only broken in boots on big walks, and avoid overly cheap boots.
- Wear woollen socks, well fitting and of a good brand, usually £15 or more a pair. IT’S WORTH IT, promise.
- Tie your boots correctly. Unsure how, ask your guide or the shop where you’re buying your boots from.
- If you’re developing a hot spot (rubbing on your foot) stop and sort it immediately. Check socks for slippage, dry foot off and apply a plaster to remove the element of rubbing between sock and foot. Don’t use Compeed straightaway, this is expensive and unnecessary at this point.
- On the brink of becoming a blister??? Apply Compeed. Don’t wait until it has become a blister, this will stop you walking comfortably until it heals.
- Something sugary extra in your bag, like an energy gel. Sometimes the energy from your lunches and snacks don’t account for a ‘detour’ or an unexpected hot or cold day.
- Plenty of water, will remove likelihood of cramps and maintain concentration. Take water from safe locations on the hills. Take some chlorine tablets as a just in case.
- Take your required medication with you, i.e. inhaler, GTN spray, Aspirin as required.
First aid kit
- Don’t pack loads, and don’t buy a ‘bells and whistles’ kit, you’re unlikely to use it.
- 1 x Tweezers
- 1 x Medical shears
- 1 x White Open Woven bandage 7.5cm x 5m
- 1 x Crepe Bandage 5cm x 4.5m
- 5 x 4-Ply Gauze Swabs 5 x 5cm
- 1 x zinc oxide tape
- 4 x Hygienic Cleansing Wipes (not for cleaning wound)
- 2 Pairs Vinyl Gloves
- 2 x Low Adherent Dressing 5 x 5cm
- 1 x Pack of Cut to size Plasters
- 2 x Blister Plasters or compeed
- 1 x foil blanket
- Optional: 16 x Paracetamol Tablets
These items will provide you with a bare essentials kit to deal with a lot of problems. If you need to use a sling for a shoulder, it is best to check out this video for improvised methods. I have seen a lot of slings on patients in the past, and rarely are they done well. Improvised ones are usually better.
It is worth having paracetamol with you for moderate pain, i.e. an ankle sprain or twist, or other similar injury. Please ensure though this medication is taken on the basis, you are not allergic to it, and that you have read, understand and take the correct dosage inline with the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) that comes with the medication.
Get on an Emergency First Aid at Work course (8 hours usually) and know how to use this kit well. It will also inform you on what to look out for, and to look after yourself, especially if it isn’t you that is hurt.