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Go Prepared Off-Road With First Aid Knowledge

Posted in Features on June 23, 2015
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If you spend most of your time at home watching the tube, your chance of serious accident or injury is probably not high. But, for those of us that venture off-road in all manner of motorized vehicles, we place ourselves at some elevated risk of bodily injury. Hence, some general knowledge of injury care is wise for us.

We're traversing difficult terrain, sometimes at breakneck speeds (no pun intended). We deal with heavy moving objects, flying debris, and hot metals and fluids. Ironically though, many injuries out in the dirt don't come from vehicle activities, but can occur simply due to falls and sprains hiking over boulders, ledges, or other terrain. We face the possibility of cuts, burns, concussions, and broken bones.

First aid classes often teach one to survey the accident or injury situation. Persons lending aid need to first determine that the area is safe for them to proceed and that any danger has subsided. Professional responders on a race track are taught this fundamental thought, but as weekend warriors we are not. A good example is when attending to a rolled vehicle. You'll want to ensure the vehicle is stable and then proceed to aid the driver and passengers. In the rush to right a vehicle quickly, someone outside the vehicle could also be injured in the process.

Having a good basic knowledge of first aid practices along with some useful first aid items can make the difference in providing care and comfort should an injury occur. You can carry some first aid items with you at all times. At the extreme, this knowledge and preparation could save someone's life when professional medical help is not immediately available.

To address knowledge needs, basic first aid classes can often be found locally through the Red Cross or similar organizations, and are sometimes combined with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction. In addition to addressing injury, the classes can help you deal with a person that may be unconscious, has stopped breathing, or suffered cardiac arrest.

Burns can easily be a resulting injury in motorsports activities. There are hot engines, exhaust pipes, and scalding fluids that you want to keep far from contacting skin. Cuts can become infected in the field and turn serious quickly. Severe burns that breach skin layers are much like a cut with an extra large, exposed surface area. This can drastically increase the chance of infection if not treated carefully. Hands are particularly vulnerable.

Even better than basic classes is Wilderness First Aid (WFA), which is targeted to teach assessment and treatment of a victim in a situation where professional medical attention is not readily available. By its very nature, off-road travel often puts us into remote areas where an injured person might not have access to proper medical care for many hours. It's up to us to provide for the injured person during that initial period. We are our own first responders when out in the boonies!

It's wise to carry a first aid kit in your vehicle or on you at all times, especially out in the dirt. There are many commercially available first aid kits in many sizes from pocket kits for hiking to far more serious kits for extended trips with large groups of people. In general, you should know how to properly use the tools and supplies in your kit, otherwise you may cause more harm than good administering poor first aid.
If you choose so, you can purchase individual supplies and build your own first aid kit from scratch to suit your specific needs. This allows you to become more familiar with the kit you carry and tailor its contents more towards the types of injury scenarios you are likely to encounter. Building your own kit also allows you to cater to any container restrictions you may have, whether it’s a small dirt biking pouch or a very substantial first aid kit you carry on your 4WD or race vehicle.

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