Wilderness Safety and Medicine
With four million acres of designated wilderness and more whitewater river miles than any state in the lower 48, Idaho’s forests, deserts, mountains and rivers attract thousands of local residents and visitors each year. The vast terrain, often remote and sparsely populated, boosts some of the most outstanding scenery, fishing and recreational opportunities in the US, yet it is also the site of many accidents, emergencies and rescues. Planning, packing and preparedness can make the difference between life and death when adventuring in the outdoors.
Before trekking into the wilderness, even for a day-long outing, it is important to be well educated about the climate, terrain, route hazards, insects and animals in the area, and have a basic knowledge of survival techniques. There are essentially ten things that everyone should have with them on any trip into the backcountry.
Ten Essential Items
- Emergency shelter, a tarp or space blanket
- Firestarter or water proof matches
- Water filter or method of water purification
- First aid kit and a compact guide to dealing with medical emergencies
- Insulation, extra clothing
- Illumination, flashlight or headlamp
- Nutrition, an extra day’s worth of food: freeze dried meal, energy bars, nuts, dried fruit
- Knife or multi-use tool
- Sun protection: sunscreen for skin and lips; sunglasses; lightweight clothing
- Navigation, map and compass are especially important when off trail, as well as knowledge of their proper use.
The main purpose of these items really is to answer the two basic questions: one, can you respond positively to an accident or emergency and two, can you safely spend a night, or more, out? Of course, during many trips you may only use a few of the above mentioned items; however, much of what you carry may never be fully appreciated until, in that one instance, it is needed. The more prepared you are, the better your chances for success in the event of an emergency.
When considering first aid supplies, remember that the most common medical needs on the trail are lacerations, puncture wounds, sprains, fractures, blisters, poison ivy, insect bites, over exposure to the elements and/or dehydration.
If in the event of an emergency, Portneuf Medical Center’s Emergency Department is ready and proud to serve all of Southeastern Idaho. We diagnose and treat a wide range of medical ailments from illnesses and minor injuries to major medical emergencies. Our highly trained staffed, complete with air transport, are ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week to handle your minor and major medical needs.
Jordon S Marshall, DO. is a board certified emergency medicine physician. He graduated from medical school at Des Moines University in Iowa, completed his emergency medicine residency at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois and is currently undergoing fellowship training in wilderness medicine. Jordon is a native of Pocatello and recently became a part of PMC’s emergency department team of physicians. He is married with three beautiful, active children.