Forum Index » Philosophy & Technique » For WFA+ trained folks: How has your first-aid kit expanded?


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Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: New England
For WFA+ trained folks: How has your first-aid kit expanded? on 03/21/2011 07:03:13 MDT Print View

I just completed a NOLS-led Wilderness First Aid course and am a bit stumped by the dichotomy between the UL hiking mantra: "If you don't use, don't take it" and the SAR/WFA mantra: "If I MIGHT need it, take it!"

Before taking the class I was well on my way to narrowing things down to just the bare minimum first aid kit (ie. blister kit+pills+bandaids), and a little knowledge is becoming a dangerous thing as I re-evaluate what should go in the kit.

For those of you who have obtained some sort of outdoor first aid training (WFA/WFR/WEMT, etc) how has your kit expanded since going through training?

How does your kit vary for 5-day solo travel vs. with a group of five others (who either have NO training or basic Boy Scout training)?

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: For WFA+ trained folks: How has your first-aid kit expanded? on 03/21/2011 07:12:03 MDT Print View

I'm a WFR, and mine shrank drastically after my initial training. I suppose it depends on what you walk away with, but in my case, I learned to do more with less and adjusted my kit accordingly. On a trip where I'm acting in a guide/instructor role, I would take a more comprehensive group kit in addition to my personal minimalist kit.

Nathan Baker
(Slvravn) - MLife

Locale: East Coast - Mid Atlantic
Re: For WFA+ trained folks: How has your first-aid kit expanded? on 03/21/2011 07:35:39 MDT Print View

Curtis - i took the same course you did and have to echo the statement made by Chris stating that he now takes less stuff. Part of the WFA training shows you how to improvise if you do not have the right gear on hand for a particular injury. I usually carry items on me that would cover the usual injuries (blisters, cuts, soreness, stomach issues, etc...). However, if there was a catastrophic injury that occurred I dont think I would have a problem fashioning a splint, neck brace, tourniquet from something I already carried.

Also if I am going with a group I usually carry a bit more, but always talk with the other about what they are bringing so as not to duplicate items that are not often used (ex. sam splint)

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: WFR on 03/21/2011 07:50:14 MDT Print View

After I took my WFR I did the same thing as Chris. I had a fantastic instuctor that really made us think.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
For WFA+ trained folks: How has your first-aid kit expanded? on 03/21/2011 11:04:33 MDT Print View

My kit has not expanded but contracted! My WFA class was taught how to improvise, using less stuff.

There's also the question of party size. For my solo trips with my dog, I take the bare minimum, primarily bandaids and blister stuff, plus a sanitary pad in case of serious bleeding (they make the most effective compresses, per the instructors of both the WFA classes I've had). When I take my three grandkids out, my kit includes more stuff. The larger the party, the greater the probability of an accident--and vice versa.

Edited by hikinggranny on 03/21/2011 11:06:31 MDT.

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: New England
Did we take the same classes? on 03/21/2011 19:46:40 MDT Print View

I think perhaps we might have been in different classes! My instructor was clearly not into lightweight packing. He made noises that made me wonder if he doesn't take a neck brace along with him. When I told him about my desires to stay light, he chastised me for not bringing enough.

What is in your first aid kits for solo and group use?

Here is mine for solo:


  • Moleskin
  • waterproof bandages
  • 3 povidone iodine antiseptic wipes
  • 8 Benadryl tabs
  • 2 Ivy cleanse wipes
  • 3pr latex gloves
  • 4 antacid
  • 6 tylenol
  • 16 ibuprofen
  • 4 imodium tablets
  • 4 Prilosec
  • 10 Potable Aqua
  • 6 alcohol wipes
  • 6 single-use neosporin packets
  • Leuko/sports tape
  • 2 pkgs wound closure strips
  • 1 roll gauze
  • tweezers
  • lg safety pin


I don't yet know what my group kit will be like; looking forward to seeing yours for ideas!

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Re: Did we take the same classes? on 03/21/2011 23:18:53 MDT Print View

I agree with the others. The more knowledge I gained from medical courses, the less I usually take; esp on solo trips.

My kit is usually (1-5day hike):
Superglue (or dermabond if I have some laying around)
Steri-strips x1 set
Bandaid x2
Benedryl x4
Tylenol x4
Ibeuprofin x4
Immodium x2-4
Small amount leukotape
Sutures x1
Bandana x1

I figure I can hike out in a few hours from most of the places I go in the SE, so no need to take anything crazy.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: For WFA+ trained folks: How has your first-aid kit expanded? on 03/22/2011 02:52:56 MDT Print View

> and mine shrank drastically after my initial training.

+1

Cheers

Ryan Linn
(ryan.c.linn)

Locale: Maine!
Re: Did we take the same classes? on 03/22/2011 05:38:03 MDT Print View

Curtis, my first WFR instructor gave me that sort of feeling as well. When he talked about equipment for a day hike including a sleeping bag, stove, and full equipment for overnighting, I knew something was up. I know it's supposed to be good practice to assume you COULD be stranded overnight, but... well, you know.

I think the others have said it pretty well. My first aid kit for solo trips hasn't really changed due to my WFR training. I still carry very little if it's just me. For trips where I'm leading others, for a camp or school type trip, I just take whatever the organization already has laid out. Usually, for insurance reasons, camps or other orgs that run hiking trips have a pretty overkill first aid kits.

If I could take out certain things that are seriously redundant or I'm super unlikely to need (sam splints!) I'd do that, but otherwise I figure I just have to cut weight elsewhere, or split the first aid kit into smaller portions (an ouch-kit, a sick-kit, and an oh-s**t-kit) so the weight can be split between people.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: For WFA+ trained folks: How has your first-aid kit expanded? on 03/22/2011 10:22:34 MDT Print View

W-EMT... kit shrank considerably. You can improvise just about anything; items still in my kit are essentially just for convenience. I can't recall the last time I traveled w/more than one other person, but if you can improvise for one person you can improvise for 'em all. The difference would be if it were a camp or other organization that requires you to carry specifics...

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: WFA and kits on 03/22/2011 10:42:06 MDT Print View

At the risk of getting myself in trouble, I'd mention that I did my first WFR receert with NOLS and was thoroughly unimpressed. My experience only.

As for your kit Curtis, I'd say that moleskin has no use if you have athletic tape and duct tape (and keep ahead on foot care), that the combo of a gauze roll and tape is more versitile than various specific bandages and wound closures, that you only need one type of wipes, don't need a safety pin, do need a needle, and can probably get away with fewer pills across the board (depending on group size, trip length, group experience, and personal comfort).

The type of group probably makes more of a difference than anything else. I trust myself to not get blisters and not do anything stupid. There are some folks one might go backpacking with of which the same could not be said, in which case more first aid gear might be appropriate.

albert barragan
(comaone) - F

Locale: PNW
one more item on 03/22/2011 10:56:07 MDT Print View

One thing I always carry is a small crazy glue, it has saved me and others, I always carry some

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
After WFA on 03/22/2011 11:32:52 MDT Print View

My 1st aid kit shrunk after training as well. The only time I add a fair amount back in is when I am out with young scouts. They seem to find a way to injure themselves no matter what.

On my own trips, I honestly can't remember the last time I needed anything more than something for a headache or allergic reaction. Most of my supplies and training has been used on other hikers/horse packers I have come across, and that's perfectly fine with me.

Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Re: Did we take the same classes? on 03/27/2011 07:12:05 MDT Print View

Curtis,
One thing I take that was stressed in my WFA class that never seems to be in any standard first aid kit is a small (appx. 1 oz) syringe for "pressure washing" an abrasion wound. I have not used it on myself but I have used it with scouts. I assumed that all NOLS WFA/R instructors emphasized bringing a syringe but perhaps not.

My course was taught by a vet medic from the Iraq war. He was excellent and imo, balanced well the lightweight/improvise vs. well-stocked points of view.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
For WFA+ trained folks: How has your first-aid kit expanded? on 03/27/2011 18:26:53 MDT Print View

You can improvise with a pinhole in a plastic bag. Again, when I take the grandkids out, the group kit does include a syringe (distributed free at the end of my WFA class!).

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: New England
thanks to all! on 03/27/2011 19:47:30 MDT Print View

Thank you to all for your comments. I'm readjusting my kit and making a smaller one for myself and larger ones for the groups.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: thanks to all! on 03/27/2011 20:13:59 MDT Print View

The first time I took the course, the instructor said that the classic mistake for a backpacker out on a long trip is to have insufficient sterile bandage materials. Lots of stuff can be improvised, but sterile bandages are kind of hard to come out way out there in the wilderness. I purchased dozens of 2x2 and 4x4 gauze and similar pads.

The second time I took the course, I told that comment to the instructor, and his response was, "Huh?" He turned out to be an ambulance driver/EMT with very poor knowledge or experience with real wilderness situations.

The third time I took the course, the instructor tried to emphasize pharmaceuticals.

The fourth time I took the course, the instructor spent a lot of time on improvised materials that do not need to be inside the first aid kit. For example, using a piece of foam sleeping pad as a splint for a fractured arm.

So, after that, I don't know which one to believe.

--B.G.--