Archive for the ‘first aid’ Tag

Ten Essentials   1 comment

Here we are on a day hike at Yosemite in 2007. Yes, we carry the Ten Essentials!

Here we are on a day hike at Yosemite in 2007. Yes, we carry the Ten Essentials!

Spring is upon us … and it’s time to go tromping into the back country.

I’ll never forget the time a group of boys & Dads from our church decided to do the Half Dome trek in Yosemite National Park as a day hike. (note to self: don’t do THAT again). It’s a 20+ mile hike, and the technical term for this hike is that it’s a butt kicker. Many, many people do this hike in season; it’s one of those “gotta do it” hikes in California.

While on the trail, our group caught up to a young boy, about 13 years old … and his parents had sent him alone on this trail with a bottle of water and a peanut butter sandwich. I often think about that young man. I don’t know how close he got to Half Dome, but I know his parents failed in their responsibility that day.

Hiking is something that the Boy Scouts do very well, and so it’s timely to consider the Ten Essentials that Boy Scouts take on every hike. You should do the same thing … they just might save your life.

  1. A Pocket Knife: You don’t need a weapon, but a small folding knife can help you do many things … including opening that tough bag of beef jerky you will want to bring. I prefer a Swiss army knife. Some like lock blades or multi-tools. Your mileage may vary.
  2. A First Aid Kit: You just don’t know when you’ll need this. Moleskin is great for ill-fitting hiking boots that rub you the wrong way … duct tape can do in a pinch as well.
  3. Extra Clothing: It’s a pain, I know, but you need to layer up. It gets cold at altitude, even in the summer.
  4. Rain Gear: You need a poncho. You need a poncho. You need a poncho. See # 3.  A sudden cloud burst, you’re cold and wet and you will not be having fun – especially if you have whining kids that you haven’t done a good job preparing for the trail.
  5. A Flashlight: I used to swear by Mini Maglights, but now I prefer LED headlamps. And yes, take extra batteries.
  6. Food: Nothing tastes better than a good meal in the back country. And if you burn enough calories, you can eat trail mix without gaining weight (something you can NEVER do sitting on the couch).
  7. Water: Some like Nalgene bottles, others prefer Camelbacks … which can provide the little backpack you need to carry everything. If you’re out for any length of time, you need 2 quarts of water. If it’s hot, plan appropriately.
  8. Matches: Don’t start a fire unless you have a permit.
  9. Sun Protection: The sun is fierce if you’re hiking at altitude.
  10. Map & Compass: You need to know where you are and how to get to where you’re going. A GPS is great, of course, as long as you know how to use it, and have extra batteries. And it doesn’t fall in a creek.
Half Dome is one of the most beautiful sites in California.

Half Dome is one of the most beautiful sites in California.

You may also want to carry

  • Insect repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • A camera & lenses, up to the amount of weight you want to carry!
  • Water purification system – you need to stay hydrated, and if you’re not carrying enough water to drink until your safe return, then you’re in trouble without pure water
  • A walking stick or trekking poles (which can double as a monopod for the camera) – which will ease the pressure on your knees. But please, please, do not use unprotected metal tips on rocky trails, as they will mark the rocks
  • Nylon cord (great for rigging a shade structure with your poncho)
  • A watch
  • Any medications you are to take, if they’re not in your first aid kit
  • Extra socks – if you are blister prone, it’s wise to be careful
  • Swimsuit – If you like to swim in the wilderness, you need to wear a swimsuit
  • TP & a trowel
  • A whistle

Everyone should carry their own gear! Adults, you do not carry the gear for the kids. They get to be responsible for their gear – it saves you the weight, and teaches them something about hiking.

Remember … take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints!Yosemite creek

Being Human   2 comments

CPRWe’ve had some, uh, spirited conversations around the dinner table this week about CPR.

I was shocked by two ideas.

1. Assisted living facilities, such as the one in Bakersfield that is the subject of national news this week, often have corporate policies that preclude employees from offering potentially life-saving aid.

  • They don’t want their clients to die, really, but they REALLY don’t want to be sued.

We don’t really know what happened at the facility in full detail … it is certain that a woman called 911 from the facility, and then she refused to render aid when prompted by the emergency dispatcher. She stated this was against policy.

Not a human policy, a corporate policy.  Not a law, a corporate policy.

I have read the caller was a certified nurse of some kind, but working in a non-nursing role at this facility. I have read that the patient had a “DNR” (do not resuscitate) on file, and I’ve read that she didn’t have one on file. Don’t know … and ultimately, I don’t care. The facility employee didn’t have her ethics working properly this day, and the corporation that employed her doesn’t have a heart. Clearly.

2. School districts in California often have policies that preclude teachers from offering potentially life-saving aid. Teachers cannot do CPR, even if trained (in fact, they must be trained, and then often are told not to use that skill by District rule). EpiPens cannot be administered by a teacher in a classroom, even if the student is choking from a bee sting or other allergic reaction.

  • Schools don’t want their students to die, really, but they REALLY don’t want to be sued.

I find this an offensive situation. School teachers should be trained in first aid. School teachers with special needs kids in their rooms (such as those requiring EpiPens) should have advanced training. And then they should be authorized to use that training when required.

It’s the human thing to do.

I was not shocked by a third idea.

3. CPR does not work all of the time … and it seldom works with old, infirm people.

Read the Alabama ER Doc’s opinion on this one (link is below). Personally, I know that emergency CPR doesn’t work all of the time … but if it’s the best first aid we have available, don’t you think we should use it, assuming it is consistent with the patient’s wishes?

First AidLiability?


Dr. Graham Nichol, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said he was shocked by what happened (at the Bakersfield assisted living facility).

CPR doubles survival odds, he said.

“If liability was a concern,” Nichol said. “I would suspect there is a greater liability if someone dies.”

Actually, I’m not sure that’s true. But I do know what the human thing to do would be.

Most states have “Good Samaritan Laws” that protect citizens that act in a reasonable way, consistent with their training, to help other people in emergency situations. Because we are such a litigious society, those laws are often tested in court, and good samaritans are still sometimes sued because they attempted to render aid. There was a famous 2009 case in California, where a woman dragged a victim from the victim’s car after an accident … and the victim was then a paraplegic after the accident. The California Supreme Court found that the “aid” given by this samaritan was inappropriate, and resulted in injury to the victim. Clearly, “good” samaritans can do too much, and too much is not “good.”

It’s also true that you can be sued at any time for doing anything, or for doing nothing. Good samaritan laws are intended to protect citizens, and encourage them to help one another. Those laws are intended to be a legal shield for people like soccer coaches or Scout leaders who help the young people in their charge when they are injured.

Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?

What You Should Do

Are you CPR certified? Your local Red Cross probably offers first aid and CPR training. Get certified, and then you’ll know how to properly deal with emergency situations within your family and in the workplace. You should know what to do, shouldn’t you?

Make sure your wishes are known for how you want care administered in situations where you are incapacitated. This is particularly important for people in extended families, having distant relatives, or in unique living situations. If you don’t make your wishes known, then your next of kin WILL make those decisions for you if they are REQUIRED to do so by circumstances out of everyone’s control. Note that health care professionals do NOT make these decisions. Family members do: not life-long companions or really good friends. And, if there are multiple children disagreeing about what to do when their parent is gravely ill … then that parent may not be treated the way they would wish to be treated.

If you want to make sure your wishes are carried out, you need a POLST. Note that different states have different forms, but here’s the link for California:


Huffington Post: Do You Have a Duty?

California’s Good Samaritan Law

Alabama ER Doc’s opinion


USA Today

Let’s Talk Turkey

Forbes: Ethical or Legal Problem?

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