Treating a Wound in the Field
April 16, 2013
Med Kit Basics
In my last post, Basic Knife Safety, I wanted to make sure that you knew how to use a knife properly while avoiding any type of bodily injury. With that being said, even the most seasoned outdoorsman can make a mistake and can end up cutting themselves. For example, my buddy and I were doing some hiking this weekend and he asked for me to show him how to make a simple snare and trigger. While setting up the snare and pulling the trigger taut, I switched my knife to my other hand and cut the outside of my finger. Now, I’ve learned the hard way that whenever you are in the field and get injured, you drop whatever you are doing and inspect then clean/treat your injury. Immediate response is important for a couple of reasons:
- You may be more injured/cut than you initially thought. (You don’t necessarily feel a very sharp blade when you are cut)
- Infection is a very real problem when you’re in the field, whether your 10 feet or 10 miles from the nearest road/civilization.
- Blood is slippery. No need to hurt yourself further because of an unsure grip.
Treating a wound in the field is a very different experience than it is at home. Even the smallest injury in the field can be life threatening. You have to make sure that you are carrying first aid basics whenever you are carrying a blade. I suggest keeping/adding the following in your Med Kit for wound care.
- Regular adhesive bandages
- Small roll of gauze or 10-20 4”x4” gauze pads
- New Skin Liquid bandages
- Butterfly closures
- Vetwrap™- used by veterinarians to wrap animal’s wounds but is great for field wound/burn care (Sports tape or electrical tape is okay too)
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Antibiotic ointment
- Quikclot™- this stops moderate to severe bleeding until further medical help is available
- General purpose soap
Treating a small wound should be a pretty basic skill most people know how to do. Regardless, I’m going to re-emphasize the method.
- Apply pressure to the wound to stop/slow bleeding
- Clean wound and surrounding area with clean, warm and soapy water
- Disinfect wound with alcohol
- Dress wound (with ointment)
- Keep wound clean and dry till further medical attention can be given (may include changing bandages regularly)
Let’s be honest, you know when all you need is a band-aid and if that’s the case then that’s what you use. I like liquid bandages for treating the real small cuts. I tend to cover any bandages I apply with some Vetrat™ or electrical tape to keep them clean and in place. Now, deeper wounds on your hands will mean that serious care needs to be taken.
If you cut yourself in the field, your first step is to inspect the wound and determine the correct course of action. If a wound is deep, you will see fatty tissue and it will bleed profusely. I highly suggest using Quickclot™ to stop the bleeding and use Vetrap™ to secure your Quickclot™ over the wound. Then get yourself medical attention ASAP. If the wound is deep but not life/function threatening, I would attempt to treat the wound in the field. This is when butterfly closures are your best friend. You want to use these to close any wound that is gaping (not closing by itself). Follow these simple steps:
- Apply pressure to the wound to stop/slow bleeding.
- Clean surrounding area with clean, warm and soapy water.
- Irrigate you’re wound with clean (ideally, boiled) water with a small amount of alcohol mixed in it.
- Let it dry completely, while still holding pressure on the wound.
- Use Butterfly closures to close your wound and then use liquid bandages to help hold the butterfly closures in place. DO NOT PUT LIQUID BANDAGES DIRECTLY ON A WOUND THIS SIZE.
- Use a light covering of antibiotic ointment around and on top of the wound. NOT IN THE WOUND!
- Cover wound in gauze wrap/pad and secure with Vetrap™ to help keep wound clean and dry.
Cuts on your hand can be tricky. Because we move and manipulate our hands so much often wounds reopen and take much longer to heal. By keeping a couple of these extra items in your Med Kit you can ensure that you’re giving yourself a good chance at keeping your wounds closed and clean before you seek further medical attention. Be Smart, Be Safe and Stay an Edge Above the Rest.
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