First Aid In The Wilderness: An Introduction

First aid is an essential skill for anyone venturing into the wilderness or the outdoors for activities (SUP, swimming, kayaking, bushcraft, camping, hiking etc). Whether you’re a seasoned outdoors person or a first-time bushcrafter, knowing how to provide basic first aid in the wilderness can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. In this guide, we’ll cover the very basics that you would need to know to stay prepared and safe while enjoying the great outdoors. However, I must stress, this is no substitute for first aid training and gaining experience using your first aid training.  

For serious injuries – Call for Help.

If you do need to get hold of Mountain Rescue, dial 999 or 112 and ask for Police, then Mountain Rescue.

Be ready with:

Location: Be as accurate as possible] Name, gender and age of casualty

Nature of emergency:

Number of people in the party.

Your mobile number

Also consider registering for Emergency SMS-this allows you to send a text to 999. Useful in areas when there isn’t enough signal for a call as a text only needs a fraction of the signal strength. Text Register to 999 and follow the instructions.

Basic First Aid Kit And Supplies: 

No matter where you’re going or what you’re doing in the outdoors, there are a few basic first aid supplies you should always have on hand. These include:

  • A dry bag, box or pouch to contain your First Aid Kit
  • Selection of sterile gauze dressings
  • Sterile eye dressings
  • Triangular and crepe rolled bandages
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Antiseptic wipes or solution
  • Safety Pins
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Pain Killers both paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Tape
  • Insect bite spray or cream
  • Antihistamine cream and or tablets
  • Distilled water for cleaning wounds
  • Eye wash
  • A whistle

Common Outdoors Injuries

Common wilderness injuries and illnesses: Yes, it is true that injuries and illnesses are a common occurrence in the wilderness, and it’s important to know how to identify and treat them. Some of the most common wilderness injuries and illnesses include:

  • Blisters
  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Hypothermia and frostbite
  • Heat stroke and dehydration
  • Insect stings and bites
  • Injury from tools – Knives, axes, etc
  • Burns

Basics First Aid Principles For The Outdoors.

We are presenting some basic information and some ideas here. If you are a regular bushcrafter or outdoor enthusiasts, please look at taking a first aid training course. There are first aid courses held through the UK and most local colleges offer them. There are specialist courses for the outdoors, which specialise the training to be more specific to the kind of scenarios you may find yourself in. The skills they teach are literally life-saving.

Basic Wilderness First Aid Skill

How to treat injuries and illnesses in the wilderness: When an injury or illness occurs in the wilderness, the goal is to stabilise the patient and prevent the condition from getting worse until professional medical help can arrive. Here are a few first aid basic steps to follow in order to treat injuries and illnesses in the outdoors and to help you and yours stay safe:

  1. Assess the situation and determine the best course of action: The first step in treating an injury or illness in the outdoors is to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. This includes assessing the patient’s condition, the severity of the injury or illness, and the availability of help. Once you’ve assessed the situation, you can then decide whether you need to call for help or if you can handle the situation on your own.

  2. Administer first aid as necessary: The next step is to administer first aid as necessary. This includes cleaning and dressing wounds, splinting fractures, and providing warmth and shelter for hypothermia and frostbite. It’s important to remember that proper first aid can prevent the condition from getting worse until professional medical help can arrive.

  3. Call for help if necessary: If the patient’s condition is serious or life-threatening, call for help immediately. This can be done by using a whistle, by shouting, using a mobile phone (if service is available), or a satellite phone. Be sure to give the rescuers your location and a description of the patient’s condition.

  1. Evacuate the patient if necessary: In some cases, the best course of action may be to evacuate the patient. This can be done by carrying the patient out on a stretcher, using a rescue sled, or even by using a helicopter. In any case, it’s important to make sure that the patient is properly secured and that their condition is stable before moving them.


As this is wilderness first aid, we must think slightly differently. After you dealt with or whilst you are dealing with, consider the S.T.O.P protocol. 

STAY CALM: Sit down, take a few deep, steady breaths into the belly and have something to eat and drink. Don’t panic. Layer up and get into a sheltered position if necessary.

THINK: Where was your last known location and how long ago? How far are you likely to have walked since then and in which direction? Do you have a GPS? Check it.

OBSERVE: the landscape. Contours and water features can be very good indicators of your location. What have you seen since your last known point? Was it what you expected? Ensure you have your map oriented correctly and take your time about it. Linear features can help you confirm where you are. Take a bearing off them and check it against the map.

PLAN: and don’t move until you have one in place. Be methodical and remain unflustered. Take into account distance, daylight left and weather conditions. If and when you decide to move, take a note of the time you leave and direction you’re heading in. If you really don’t know where you are and have exhausted all options, you may have to call Mountain Rescue.

Basic Outdoor First Aid Kits

Wilderness First Aid Training Videos

First Aid In The Wilderness Conclusion:

First aid is an essential skill for anyone venturing into the wilderness. By understanding how to provide basic medical care in the wilderness, you can stay prepared and safe while enjoying the great outdoors. Remember to always carry a first aid kit, know how to treat common injuries and illnesses, and know when to call for help. With these skills, you’ll be ready to handle any emergency that may arise while you’re exploring the wilderness.

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