First Aid Kit

Glyn’s topic of “Sights you see!” jogged my memory, in that I was going to review my First Aid Kit prior to the winter period setting in. Before I do this I wonder would anyone care to offer a recommendation on the subject, either by reference to a commercially available pack or a list of items on should have on an activation?

Here’s to hoping the end result won’t be a pack that weighs more than the rest of the kit put together!

73, Gerald

The lads and I carry a basic one (between us), commercially available in a lightweight green plastic box, about 6" by 4" by 1", from our local Yeomens. Never been opened (on a hill). It has plasters, bandage, antiseptic cream in it. It lives in Jimmy’s rucksack.

The main survival/emergency kit is the mobile phone, the handheld radio and the flask of hot soup! Used to carry foil blankets and bothy bag, but don’t bother now.

Prevention is better than cure, so correct clothing, boots, coats etc is the priority. I have found over the years that the most crucial items are the waterproof overtrousers and the fleecy hats. I have found that the least crucial are the gaiters and the gloves (although I suppose it depends on how warm-blooded you are - Liam hardly ever puts his gloves on and his hands are warm as toast even in sub-zero temperatures, while Jimmy is a bit of a lizard and has his gloves on more often than not for 9 months of the year). We don’t bother with commercial base-layers now - just wear non-cotton stuff.

I used to wear jeans for walking back in early 2003 - until Alan M1EYO (the original Mountain Goat) met me on SP-004 and gently advised me as to the error of my ways. I once even got lost on SP-016 (yes, Raw Head, really) and into a minor scrape on a steep bank with Jimmy (10) and Liam (5) because I hadn’t prepared my route and wasn’t carrying a map. That was my debut abandoned expedition!

Going back to first aid, and moreover accident prevention, there is no doubt that the lads and myself have all been spared countless falls, and subsequent cuts, grazes and bruises through always using trekking poles.


In reply to M1EYP:
Tom, I agree with most of what you say, but I find gaiters invaluable: in wet weather they keep your feet dry, in snow they keep the stuff out of your boots, they help to keep the feet and lower legs warm, and if you have to put crampons on they protect your clothes and skin from accidental contact with a spike. For a hat I prefer a balaclava folded (or should I say rolled) up so that you have a triple layer over the ears.

Gerald, although I usually carry a basic first aid kit much the same as Tom’s, in all my time in the hills I have only ever opened it for plasters when new boots have been breaking me in! Personally I would recommend getting a first-aiders certificate, a real eye-opener and you would be qualified to deal with somebody elses accident. Sodd’s Law being what it is, that would ensure that neither you or anybody around you ever has a mishap!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4OIG:

Hi Gerald

When I was Scuba diving there was one body of opinion saying that you don’t need a large first aid kit. You only need something to save life and the most important thing was something to help stop major bleeding. Most first aid kits only contain “comfort items” and nothing to help with a major wound. You might also want to consider some latex gloves to avoid contact with bodily fluids.

Controversial? Discuss.

73 John GW4BVE

In reply to G4OIG:


With regard to first aid the only thing I carry is a couple of military field dressings purely to cover a major gash. Having been trained in first aid for many years most things you need to make a patient or yourself comfortable can be found in the rucksack or on your person. Weight for weight I would take extra survival equipment rather than a first aid kit. This is a grey and potentially controversal area and it would be interesting to hear from some of our more experienced walkers - I have only been hill/fell walking for 35 years but had a 5 year break from 2002-07 and thoughts and opinions can change even in that short a time.

73 Glyn

In reply to GW4BVE:

Hi John and all,

Controversial? - no, the wearing of gloves is standard procedure in schools and other institutions. The other change from what many of us would call the “traditional” approach is the absence of creams and drugs in first aid kits - so as not to fall foul of allergies, etc.

I don’t think Mr Average is equipped to deal with a major incident, so I agree carrying a large first aid kit is a nonsense. I was thinking of the Lifesystems Trekker First Aid Kit which at a tenner seems reasonable.

This contains:
1 pair of disposable gloves / 7.5cm x 5m bandage / Scissors with ruler / 5cm x 4.5m crepe bandage / 5cm square non-adherent dressing / Cut-to-length elastic adhesive dressing / 4 antiseptic wipes / Safety pins / Micropore tape / 16 x 500mg Paracetamol tablets / Instructions sheet

Weight: 200g incl case.

Paracetamol are like sweets to me - well as good as when a headache comes on, so I’d add aspirin in some form and ibuprofen. I’d also add anti-histamines as I get a bad reaction to wasp stings. Maybe one or two other odds and ends.

I agree that most kits are basic, but I wouldn’t entertain going with nothing. A gash on a leg might not be life threatening, but would be a problem if there was a significant loss of blood. Anything that helps while help arrives or allows you to get to safety must be worthy of being included.

I would be wary of relying upon a mobile phone or radio to summon help - sod’s law would be that problems would occur in a valley or shielded location. Many summits don’t have coverage - height does not guarantee coverage.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:
Hi all,just thinking about my emergency kit,i always carry a mouth guard for rescusitation purposes,
perhaps an important item!!,

73 Geoff.

In reply to GM4CFS:
Glyn, where do you get military field dressings? They sound like a great idea to me.

I want to reinforce my earlier remarks. The most important thing is to know what to do in the case of a real emergency: not yours, you would be in somebody elses hands, I would hope, but if a friend or another walker comes a cropper and finishes up with broken bones or a serious wound, or someone has a suspected heart attack - and bearing that latter point in mind I always carry aspirin - and you also have shock to deal with. I have also encountered one or two cases of exposure, the initial symptoms can be a bit wierd!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not morbidly fixated on such matters, I was a first aider at work but since retiring I have not had the refresher, but the course is an eye-opener and no mistake!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Hi all…
Without wishing to trivialise such an important topic, I was once informed :-

You Only Need Two Tools In Life: WD40 & Duct Tape.

· If It doesn’t move and should – use the WD40.

· If It shouldn’t move and does – use the Duct Tape.


In reply to G4CMQ:

I take a roll of duct tape with me on my activations, anyway - to secure the roach pole on fence posts, trig points, etc…but I wonder how effective WD40 would be on an unconscious patient? Then again, I once roused a tardy friend who wouldn’t leave his pit by a good long sqib of scented flyspray through the ventilator of his tent, so I won’t say it wouldn’t work!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:


The field dressing I have are what I kept when I left the military. Might be able to get some more but not sure. Maybe Steve (INK) knows were to get some?


I was always told if it moves salute it if it doesnt paint it!!

73 Glyn

In reply to GM4CFS:

Try SP Services or Dynamed (Galls). You can a lot from a simple adhesive dressing, through to blood stoppers.

In reply to G8ADD:

I would agree with Brian. The most important thing is to know what to do. I’ve carried a fairly extensive kit since June when I was involved in several RAYNET exercises out in the hill. Most of the kit contains items to make participants more comfortable - blister plasters etc - not essentials. It’s about time I cleared it out an made room for some winter gear.

Gloves - contraversial? No - essential! At a first aid course you will be tld to avoid contact with a casualties blood.

Like most other people I’ve been lucky enough to not have to need my kit or knowledge but just the same I would recomend carrying some equipment and getting yourself on a first aid course. I’m off to my 2 day refresher course next week.

73s Robin.

In reply to GM7PKT and others:

To reinforce what has been said above:
Mobile phone: next best thing to useless on many hills; anyway, aren’t you carrying a radio transceiver?
Blister Plasters: Essential; walking with the smallest blister is misery and even the best fitting boots sometimes give you a problem
Triangular bandage: More uses than a Swiss Army Knife (you can even repair a broken roach pole with it - I have!)
Latex Gloves for the very obvious reasons

That is it, nothing else in my kit, just the essentials for survival on Scottish hills under adverse (read: normal!) conditions


Barry GM4TOE

In reply (general) :
I’m a member of a Mountain rescue team. On a rescue we obviously carry quite a bit of cas care/ resus kit. However there is also a recommended small kit for personal use when out and about in the hills.

I carry hypostop, aspirin 300mg chewable for MI, (but check for history of severe allergic reaction), paracetamol for low grade pain, (diclofenac - this is not available over the counter without prescription so not generally available - for moderate pain)

blister plasters, (also cling film is useful)
I do carry a wound dressing, but am trained that for serious bleeding they only really soak up the blood, not stop it and that direct pressure is required in this situation.

Tough cut scissors

If you suffer from asthma then not forgetting your inhaler is obviously important, likewise if you need to carry an adrenaline autoinjector for known allergic reactions.

In my experience the most striking feature of illness or injury in the hills is how quickly and incredibly cold a casualty becomes once immobile, even in apparently ok weather - add rain and wind and the situation quickly becomes very serious. So I agree with the above comments about protection from the environment being important - a bothy tent and some means of insulation from the ground being potential life savers.

Obviously whilst coverage is variable in many hill areas, it’s sensible to carry a mobile phone even though in SOTA activities we also have a transceiver. The coverage is far from non-existent, even if patchy, in many SOTA areas in England and Wales. If you can raise the alarm half an hour earlier than otherwise you may be improving your chances. If you have coverage, the MR search manager will be keen to talk to you directly if possible before the first rescue party gets to you.

Finally, knowledge is of more use than kit - I think that when not on a rescue our very experienced team doctor carries the smallest first aid kit in the team.

All the above is offered in good faith but with some anxiety as last time I offered standard MR advice on lightning I rather felt as if I was flamed for it!

73s Neil (MW0ECX)

In reply to MW0ECX:

“In my experience the most striking feature of illness or injury in the hills is how quickly and incredibly cold a casualty becomes once immobile, even in apparently ok weather - add rain and wind and the situation quickly becomes very serious. So I agree with the above comments about protection from the environment being important - a bothy tent and some means of insulation from the ground being potential life savers”

I totally agree, If you can keep the person warm more than half the battle is won in many cases. I have a small kit and it mainly consists of blister plasters, small/ large plasters, small/large bandage, Sling, 2 x thermal blankets, wipes and gloves. I have a thermal mat, used for sitting on when playing radio, but will act as an insulator to keep the main part of a body off the ground. I am considering a bothy bag this year as I seem to be out much more on the hills.

I not going to ever kid myself that I can do much on the side of a mountain, apart from doing my best to keep that person warm and safe until the people arrive that can really help. No plaster of bandage is going to help someone that has had a bad fall.

Don’t worry about being flamed here Neil some like to do that as they think they know better.

In reply to MW0ECX:

Finally, knowledge is of more use than kit - I think that when not on
a rescue our very experienced team doctor carries the smallest first
aid kit in the team.

Agreed Neil. I must get a refresher course this winter as I have not done one since I was scuba diving. Don’t worry about the flamers…just keep discussing.

73 John GW4BVE