DISCLAIMER: The following information is not intended, nor should it be assumed to be, a substitute for formal training in First Aid treatment and procedures. This information is presented to raise awareness of some medical conditions which can arise on canoeing, camping or hiking trips so that participants may better prepare themselves for all eventualities. The information presented is not intended to replace advice or instructions given by trained professional medical personnel. Information herein is gleened from various professional medical resources including the US Navy On-line Hospital web site, the American Red Cross web site and other reliable resources. It must be realized that improper or inadequate treatment of injuries can result in damages that sometimes are greater than doing nothing at all. Whenever possible and practical the assistance of trained, professional medical personnel should be summoned to administer treatment for serious injuries. The nature of outdoor recreation is such that injuries sometimes occur in remote areas far from available professional assistance. The information in this section is intended to be a helpful guide for treatment of injuries in such cases when getting professional help is not immediate and the nature of the injuries requires prompt attention. Marc McCord is not a trained medical practitioner, and makes no claim of expertise in treatment of injuries. Marc McCord and Southwest Paddler are not responsible for improper treatment of injuries and resulting damages that may occur.
Paddling is a sport frequently enjoyed in remote areas where medical attention can be hours, or even days, away. For that reason it is advisable for paddlers to have a knowledge of basic first aid procedures, and advanced training is even better. Rivers may cause injuries that include exposure to germs, bacteria, pathogens and other harmful effects in addition to physical injuries caused by rocks, trees, animal bits, insect stings, poisonous plant exposure or any number of other things that may require some degree of first aid attention in the field. Knowing what to do, how to do it and having the first aid supplies, as well as knowing how to utilize things found in nature, are all parts of the preparation that should be undetaken, especially when paddling whitewater or wildwater, or when paddling in remote areas where immediate medical attention is not available.
Working hand-in-hand with basic first aid procedures should also be a good understanding of the practices and procdures of CPR for those times when a paddler is rendered unconscious because of drowning, head trauma, heat-related illnesses, hypothermia or electrical shock. In such cases it is critically important to know how to open airways, start or keep the lungs of the injured paddler functioning and restore consciousness to the victim.
The American Red Cross offers classes in First Aid and CPR at very reasonable rates, and frequently offers group discounts if ten or more people sign up for one class. Paddling clubs often coordinate group training efforts. Class sizes are limited so that a high level of effectiveness and proper instruction can be achieved. It is highly recommended that paddlers get initial training in First Aid and CPR, then take refresher courses every 2-3 years to maintain competency, especially since these techniques are so critically important, yet so infrequently used or practiced.
This section is broken down into subsections, each dealing with specific medical treatments. Click the links below for information related to a particular category of illnesses, injuries or problems that may require treatment when paddling, camping, hiking or enjoying any other type of activity.