Please, Get First Aid Training. Pack Your Backcountry First Aid Kit

By Steph Terrien

Last summer I had the un-welcomed opportunity to practice my Wilderness EMT training when a member of our riding group, and dear friend experienced a horrific crash traveling 65 mph on a two-lane highway in eastern WA. Had I not had training I may have panicked and been unable to help her – instead I remained calm and was able to effectively tend to her until the paramedics arrived.  While I was assisting my friend, Shal, our group co-leader who had received Wilderness First Responder training, and Crash Scene Safety training, diverted traffic to make sure the crash scene was safe for the patient, me, and the other riders of our group who were parked on the side of the highway. I’m so thankful for the training I received – and I know the victim of the crash was even more grateful.

As a frequent riding team Wilderness EMT, Rob Watt is no stranger to backcountry emergencies. Rob is a certified EMT, the Director of Route Development for the Backcountry Discovery Routes organization, and founder of TrailMaster Adventure Gear. We checked in with Rob to get his advice on what riders should carry in their first aid kit for most backcountry riding situations. “The main thing I look for is something that will keep the patient from dying of blood loss. All other items will make you comfortable for minor injuries.  Stopping blood loss and making sure the patient can breath are the first things to tend to.  At a minimum if you’re heading into the backcountry you should learn CPR and have basic First Aid training. Getting certified as a Wilderness First Responder would be even better.”

Rob also offered us this advice, “In a life or death situation where contacting emergency services is critical, traveling with a personal locator beacon, SPOT, or satellite phone is invaluable. Additionally, something people don’t always think of but is very important for any trip is to have a person back home, or near where you are riding that is the ’emergency’ go to person.  This person would be on standby to take calls from the group if they get separated and need to get information to the entire group. Make sure everyone in your group has that number.”  Rob has used this method many times and it has worked exactly as intended.

Be prepared for the unexpected…after all, we’re all seeking adventure, and the adventure begins when things don’t go quite as planned. Please get First Aid or WFR certified, and travel with the peace of mind that you will know what to do when you come upon an emergency. After all, wouldn’t you want your riding buddies to be able to save your life should something happen to you?

Check out Rob’s company, TrailMaster Adventure Gear for some awesome must have bags for your your next adventure.

Rob’s First Aid Packing List

Wounds and Dressings
4×4 Gauze
Bandaids large and small sizes
Antibiotic ointment
Non-stick gauze pads
Coban adherent wrap

Sprains and strains
Ace wrap (2)
Sprinting material (SAM splint)
Triangle Bandage w/pins
Cold Pack ( if room)

Hydrocortisone ointment
Prescriptions and personal meds

Basic supplies
Gloves (latex or nitrile)
Survival Blanket or Bevy sac
Flashlight or headlamp
Waterproof matches or lighter
Oral rehydration packet
Large syringe 20cc-60cc for wound and eye irrigation
Emergency contact information for each rider

Here are a few resources for First Aid or Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training. Check for courses in your area.