On a recent surfing trip in G Land (a surf break in a remote Indonesian jungle), an Australian surfer stubbed his toe on a rock breaking the skin. It’s a nothing injury back home, but two days later he was in agony with a systemic infection that wasn’t going to get better in the jungle without anti-biotics.
Could you solve the problem without a costly evacuation back to a doctor in Bali?
Many adventure holidays have been cut short by illness or injury. Others have ended in tragedy because people haven’t prepared for the worst. Sometimes life threatening situations have ended well due to good training and the right equipment.
Here is a quick things-to-take list and things-to-do list to keep you and your travelling companions as safe as possible on your next big adventure.
E-PiRBs: Emergency Personal Response Beacons now cost around $300 and will get professional medical help to you quickly in a first world country. When these are activated, helicopters and/or rescue boats are scrambled to the activation point.
Sat Sleeves. These turn your ordinary smart phone into a satellite phone. Sure, the call rates aren’t great, but if you need advice in a hurry they are fantastic. The great thing about this technology is there is no need to learn how to use an unfamiliar phone in an emergency situation, and all your contacts are in the usual place.
First Aid Kits: A comprehensive wilderness first aid kit costs approximately $150. If you are travelling with 2 friends that’s the best $50 you can spend. Adding a few over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and anti-histamines is sensible option to prevent small health problems escalating, and they can also be useful in a real emergency. Adding a basic suture kit and more wound cleaning medication is also worthwhile.
Avalanche Beacons / probes / shovels: are no-brainers for any back country ski activities.
Do a specialist first aid course. Basic first aid courses are designed for cities where professional medical care is close at hand. In the wilderness, you could be looking after a patient for an extended period of time in a difficult environment. These courses teach you how to treat genuine emergencies and also how to stop small health issues becoming something more serious.
Medical Apps: Downloading the traveller health app for $5 provides a huge amount of information at your fingertips. In the above example from G Land, the patient had some Indonesian medication in his kit. The app was used to identify the type of anti-biotic and work out the correct dosage.
Let your travelling partners know of any pre-existing medical conditions and show them where your essential medication is. In an emergency you don’t want them to be looking for pills at the bottom of a 65 litre back pack.
See a doctor prior to departure date. They can prescribe drugs for altitude sickness, infections, and other problems you may face on your travels.
Buy a good waterproof bag. Nearly all the advice above is worthless if your equipment takes a swim.
Or best of all, go travelling with a doctor.
Feature Image: A trip over the falls at G Land, Java, Indonesia. Photo by Will Souw WHSUP
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