Saving my Boyfriend’s Leg: A Lesson in The importance of a First-Aid Kit

Yesterday, the snow gods answered our prayers here in Nederland, CO. Two and a half feet of fresh powder fell in under twelve hours. Thoroughly snowed into our mountain home my boyfriend, Ryan, and I celebrated as any functioning adults would: a full-blown wrestling match in chest-deep snow.

Rolling around in our snowsuits, every blow softened by billowing snow blankets, seemed harmless. Our giggles were heard around the neighborhood. That is until a skillful attempt at an elbow-drop by Ryan went horribly wrong. As he came down for the kill while I was fully buried in snow, his shin hit a snow-covered rock and split his skin to the bone.

Adrenaline and shock halted our giggles as we carefully stripped his snow pants from his skin. Our cars were buried and the roads were impassable. A hospital wasn’t an option. We had no choice but to deal with the wound ourselves.

Thanks to my experience in Wilderness First Aid and Ryan’s composure, we were able to clean the wound, stop the bleeding and temporarily seal it with super-glue and makeshift butterfly bandages crafted with duct tape until we could get to a doctor in the morning.

I don’t recommend or encourage this kind of self-treatment. We’re lucky the cut didn’t get infected. We resorted to household items out of necessity. In other words: please do not try this at home.

Our knowledge and training helped prevent the injury from getting worse and bought us time to seek a medical professional (allowing me to clear our driveway, dig out our cars and the city to plow our neighborhood).

The situation could have been a lot worse without our Wilderness First Aid training. Here are a few tips for you on how to build your very own Wilderness First Aid Kit which will be useful for accidents at home, on trails runs or anywhere else you may need one.

Prepare For The Worst

When you’re assembling a first aid kit, the first step is creating a comprehensive list of the problems and emergencies you realistically may face. Engaging in any outdoor pursuits, from trail running, hiking, skiing, mountain biking to rock climbing, presents the risk of traumatic injuries. That’s true for household chores and other day-to-day activities. Your activities, environment, and location should guide the list.

Then, organize the list into gear for different scenarios you may face, such as major trauma, minor injuries and environmental problems organize your supplies with that list in mind by making the most indispensable or frequently used tools the most accessible.

Organize Your First-Aid Kit Effectively

In emergencies, it’s vital to have your gear organized and sensibly laid out. You need fast and easy access to emergency gear and you don’t want to worsen the situation by spilling supplies everywhere. Here’s how to organize your first aid gear effectively:

  1. Use different colored compartments or packs
  2. Clearly label each compartment or pack: Dedicate one section of the kit to everyday needs (blisters, sunscreen, OTC meds, personal medication, minor cuts, and scrapes, etc.) and leave the other for emergencies and minor trauma (more severe wounds and injuries). This helps ensure that the first aid kit is complete with its most crucial gear when it is needed.

Educate Your Household or Training Partner

Your first-aid kit will be a lot less useful if you’re the only one who can use it. The people you live and train with need to how to use the kit in an emergency so your carefully crafted first-aid kit can be used to its fullest potential. If you do plan on heading out for remote trail runs or mountain adventures, I highly recommend, at a minimum, taking a Wilderness First Aid course.