Wilderness first aid
Nathan Mann (ndmann@TACL.DNET.GE.COM)
Wed, 14 May 1997 10:02:48 -0400
How about a few ancidotes where scouts (or leaders) were involved in wilderness
first aid? (These may be useful as good examples, bad examples, or comic relief)
This past year, a local troop was exploring Buckner Cave (near Bloomington In.)
This cave is open access, non-commercial. All the land owner provides is a
sign-in/out logbook. (And a water faucet for scouts). I've met troops from Tn.
, Oh, Il, Mi, as well as Ky while our troop has been in the cave. I'm told it
averages 150 visitors a week(end), year round. It's a non-technical cave,
minimal risks as far as caves go... if you use common sense!
The troop was in the back reaches of the cave, probably 3/4 around a loop. They
came upon a group of 3 local teenage boys, one laying on the floor and the other two
huddled, not knowing what to do. They were in shorts and T-shirts, and only had
one working flashlight. The boy laying shivvering on the floor appeared to be
in bad shape. He had a nasty knot on his head where the cave had 'kissed' him.
He was not coherent, his color not great. His buddies were clueless. He had
been on the floor over an hour, and had been getting worse, according to his
The scouts assessed the situation, and dispatched three of their fastest guys to
seek outside assistance, while the rest remained with the injured teenager.
They combined their excess clothing to make a pad for him to lay on, rather than
directly on the cold floor of the cave. They got him into pants and
long-sleeved shirt(jacket?). Elevated his feet. As he recovered, they gave him
some water, pain relief, and as he got feeling better, some snacks.
The three scouts seeking outside assistance made it to the enterence, and found
no one at home at the property owner's house. Down the road 3/4 mile to the
caving store they were able to request assistance. By their accurate
description, the response team dispatched one pair of rescuers to a sink-hole,
to rappell in. The others headed to the mouth of the cave.
As the rescue team entered the mouth of the cave, the scouts and 3 teenagers
emerged. The injured teenager had recovered enough to insist on trying to get
out on his own. The scouts insisted on loaning him a helmet. He was checked
over, and, I believe sent to a local hospital for examination.
The rescuers that rappelled in worked their way to the mouth of the cave, and
were coming out, as yet another group of adventurous explorers came down the
trail, improperly attired, without proper gear, laughing and carrying on.
o The teenager *could* have gotten MUCH worse, had help not arrived.
o Many times, simple treatments can help a lot.
o Those scouts will remember, as will those teenagers. Lessons for everyone.
o This "WILDERNESS" was very close to home.
3 light sources, (flashlights & spares), candle & matches, lightstick
2 people together (minimum),
1 person on surface knowing where (and when expected to return)
Maps of cave and/or person experienced with the cave
discipline among the group and respect for the environment and risks
Proper CLOTHING (long pants, sweatshirt) or coveralls, rugged shoes
Kneepads, elbow pads, and helmet
snacks (water, hard candy, gum, jerky, cheese, candy bars)
Knee pads/Elbow pads can be improvised by cutting a slit in the toes of your
thick socks. It can always be sewn up later if you need the socks!
Bike helmets work well. Mine have quite a few dings & scratches where I said
"Thank you Helmet!" (also called a brain bucket)
So... let's share our
ancidotal or first hand descriptions on situations and how they were met.
T40 Venture Scouting
(Contact T243 for the 1st hand description of this cave incident)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City