What basic first aid equipment should I carry with me on a trek? Also, is there any place where I can take a short course in first aid, so that I can be well prepared to look after my family and myself when we travel?
- Jitendra, New Delhi
Be prepared for cuts, sprains, fractures, bruises, fever and stomach problems. Since weight is a major issue on treks, here is a minimal list of first aid equipment: gauze pads, gauze bandages, crepe bandages in two sizes, cotton wool, triangular bandage, Combiflam, antacid tablets, metronidazole tablets, Pudin Hara capsules, ORS powder, isabgol, Crocin, Trika, Avil, Savlon, Band-Aids, balm. Keep all of these handy in your backpack; they will suffice for hikes and easy treks.
On tougher treks, you should carry a proper medical kit with your tents and kitchen items. If a doctor is not present, one member of the group should know how to use that kit. (Information about where you can do the course in Delhi and online is provided below.) Besides this, there are few other ways in which you can prepare yourself. Find out if any member of the group is allergic to any substance — chemical or natural.
Always try to keep a Swiss army knife and a short length of climbing rope with you. It will come in handy if you have to do a night trek, if someone slips into a ravine in rainy weather, and if you have to carry someone on your back. There is a knot called a triple bowline or Balda 3 (after a mountaineering instructor who perfected it) that’s often used by Indian climbers. It is tied after passing loops of rope over you and the victim on your back. Once tightened, it will hold the victim in place on your back even if he is unconscious. It also leaves the rescuer’s hands free. You can learn how to tie this knot from mountaineers. You can also read the instructions at http://bit.ly/do803e or watch a tutorial video at http://bit.ly/9NvwHx.
For a broken limb, walking poles can be used as splints. If your backpack has a removable frame, that can be helpful for spine injuries. To keep the neck immobile, put two packed sleeping bags on either side. For bee stings, use Combiflam and Avil. Soothe the area with a cloth pad dipped in cold water. Use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze out the stings.
A victim with excessive bee poison in his body should be carried (walking speeds up blood circulation and carries the poison to the heart) as quickly as possible to a doctor who can administer antidotes. Always walk in groups of four — if one gets hurt, one can stay with him, and two can set out to bring help.
To do a first aid course in New Delhi, contact SAB Organisation, SAB Wellcare Clinic, 73, Taimoor Nagar, Opp. B-547, New Friends Colony, Phone: 9999096888 or East West Rescue, 37, Prithviraj Road, Phone: 24699229, 24690429, 24698865.