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Koos Barnard

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CONDENSED VERSION | SA JAGTER/HUNTER | May 2019 | By PAUL DONOVAN

Putting a first aid kit together

It’s a fact of life that many activities which utilise the bush are normally risky, and hunting is no exception. Let’s face it, where guns, bows and arrows, crossbows, knives and of course dangerous animals are involved, accidents can happen no matter how careful we are. So, when the inevitable does happen, we need to be prepared. When an emergency arises, a first aid kit is the number one item you’ll need.

There are two types of first aid kits: Short term and long term. A long-term kit is one that you would carry in a vehicle or on a multiday hunt. A short-term kit contains fewer items and is ideal to carry on you during a one-day hunt.

 

If you are able to keep the first aid kit in a vehicle you can pack it with as many items as you deem fit. However, if you need to carry it with you, it must be compact enough to fit into the pockets of cargo pants or a jacket or even a bumbag. Its contents must cover as many eventualities as possible without the pack being overly bulky or obtrusive.

 

When assembling a kit, first decide where you are going to keep it as this will dictate what you include. Then begin with the basics; plasters, bandages, alcohol wipes, antiseptic cream, pain killers, etc and build from there.

 

The following items make up the first aid kit that I carry in my day rucksack irrespective of where I’m going (include or exclude items to suit your own skill or requirements level):

• A small bottle of either Betadine, Dettol or Savlon for

cleaning wounds.

• Two Melolin wound-dressing pads. These are non-stick low absorbent pads used for covering grazes and lightly exuding wounds.

• An assortment of different-sized plasters.

• A box of Steri-Strips/butterfly closures. These are adhesive strips used for closing wounds. Care should be taken when using them to ensure that no dirt is sealed into the wound. The wound should be thoroughly cleaned, and any debris removed first before closing it with the strips.

• A roll of adhesive tape.

• Pain killers. Carry several different types to ensure that if someone can’t take one, you have another option. Always ask if the person is allergic to a specific type of pain killer (particularly aspirin) before administering it.

• A space blanket. This can be used to retain body heat or to improvise a shelter.

• Two triangular bandages.

• Two burn dressings.

• A blister kit.

• Sachets of rehydrate/electrolyte. This is useful if you spend a lot of time in the sun and become dehydrated.

• A tube of anti-inflammatory cream or gel.

• A tube of antibiotic cream or packet of broad-spectrum antibiotic tablets.

• A box of anti-diarrhoea pills or charcoal tablets.

• A packet of wet wipes.

• A tube of antihistamine cream and/or pack of tablets.

• Several crepe bandages (1x10cm; 1x15cm). It has many

uses, including strapping up sprained wrists and ankles, or dealing with a snakebite.

• Two eye pads.

• An ice wrap.

• A sterile eyewash or saline solution for cleansing the eyes.

• A disposable CPR face shield.

• Cold compress bandage for a

sprained ankle.

• QuikClot. This adsorbent haemostatic agent was invented by the US military to treat battlefield wounds but has filtered through into civilian use. QuikClot contains a product called kaolin which accelerates clotting and stops bleeding really fast. I have seen how effective this product is, and although quite expensive it is worth packing (that is if you can find a pharmacy

which sells it).

• Two pairs of M/L surgical gloves (avoid latex as they can cause allergies in some people). Pack them in small Ziploc bags for extra protection. These will be the first item you should look for, so make them easily accessible.

• A pack of sterile gauze swabs.

• A pair of medical scissors.

• Tweezers.

• Safety pins.

• Sam splint. This is a strip of thin aluminium covered in an absorbent foam which can be formed around a bone break and held in place with bandages. Failing that, carry a strip of foam sleeping mat.

• Condom – not for if you get lucky, but it is useful for keeping a wound dry.

• Tampon/sanitary pad, which can be used to stem heavy bleeding.

• Don’t forget personal items such as medication, EpiPen

(if you are allergic to insect stings) and spare contact lenses if you wear them.

 

If you are entering a country which has a dubious health system, it may be worth packing a sterile medical pack. This should contain an assortment of varying-sized syringes, needles, cannulas, scalpel blades and even thread should you need to sew a wound up.

 

PACKING

When assembling a first aid kit, pack it in some sort of logical order. By that I mean packing for example bandages, plasters and wound-cleaning products together as they deal with bleeding. The more organised the contents, the easier things will be to find.

 

To save on space, take things out of their packaging, but ensure it is labelled, has the dosage rate and expiry date written somewhere. Protect sharp items from damaging other contents in the kit – particularly sterile ones. Once sterile packaging has been compromised, the contents will be worthless. And ensure liquids are secured in Ziploc bags to protect the other contents in case of a leak.

 

Two other important things are firstly a list of the contents with their expiry date, so you know when something should be replaced, and secondly a sachet of silica gel to protect the contents from moisture.

 

DETAILS ARE IMPORTANT

It is a good idea to carry on you details of your blood group, emergency contacts, allergies, medical conditions, medication, etc, so that in the event of an accident, these will be readily on hand. One of the best ways of doing this is to have it printed on a dog tag, or some other wearable and easily accessible item.