What’s in your first-aid kit?

What’s in your first-aid kit?



Story by Ian Ferguson

Choose the items that suit your trip.

First Aid KitAs the American Alpine Institute’s manager of equipment services and a professional guide with over a decade of experience, Richard Riquelme has seen his share of wilderness emergencies. He offered advice for how to pack a medical kit based on the types of emergencies he’s witnessed in the field.

“In the backcountry, you have to keep in mind that your goal is not really to fix anything; it’s to stabilize,” Riquelme said. “Control the situation and slow the deterioration until the injured person can get to more advanced health care such as a hospital.”

Riquelme’s advice was to focus your kit on the types of problems you’re likely to encounter on your trip. He added that using the gear you already have saves weight (tent poles and backpack straps can be used to make a splint, for example). The most important component of any first aid kit is your own brain, and the benefits of a course in wilderness first aid can’t be overstated.

Here are some first aid suggestions for adventures in the Mt. Baker area, but keep in mind that the lists are not comprehensive and should be tailored to meet the needs of your group and your intended outing.

• Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
• Butterfly closures
• Sterile pads (feminine pads are best)
• Athletic tape
• Gauze roll
• ACE bandage
• Irrigation/suction syringe
• Tweezers
• Flexible splint (SAM splint)
• Trauma scissors
• Moleskin
• Safety pins
• Antiseptic
• Antibiotic ointment
• Thermometer
• Antihistamines
• Hydrocortisone cream
• Ibuprofen/aspirin
• Diarrhea medication
• Oral rehydration salts
• Aloe Vera (for burns)
• Water treatment tablets
• Wilderness first aid booklet

Most of the same pieces from above still apply, but here are some extra ski-specific first aid items:
• Knee braces
• Elbow braces
• Shoulder sling
• Space blanket
• CPR mask (for avalanche resuscitation)
• Vaseline (to prevent and treat windburn)
• Hand warmers

On exposed alpine ascents and rock climbs, every ounce counts. If you can only carry a few items, here are Riquelme’s suggestions:
• Athletic tape
• ACE bandage
• Feminine pads
• Basic painkillers