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On Being Prepared

About ten years ago I was backpacking with a friend along the Bartram Trail here in Western North Carolina.  Three days into our hike she slipped on wet leaves and shattered her ankle.  We weren’t doing anything dangerous or reckless.  We weren’t on a particularly technical trail and we were both packing light.  It just happened.  Miles from any road or trailhead we were on our own. 

Luckily one of us was a skilled wilderness first aid responder with years of real life experience in handling just this type of emergency.  Unluckily, it wasn’t me, it was the victim.  I knew nothing.  But with a cool head she talked me through the process of creating a makeshift splint out of hiking poles, fleece jacket, sleeping pad and of course, duct tape.

So for the past eight years, without fail, I take a CPR and First Aid recertification class.  Partly because it’s a requirement of my job, but mostly because things just happen.  I don’t believe riding a bike is particularly dangerous.  Neither is bike touring.  But even out on a day ride we can find ourselves miles from help.

Basic First Aid and CPR classes are available in almost every town and cost only a nominal fee.  The investment in time is only a few hours.  A good basic First Aid kit is very inexpensive, is light weight and takes up only a small space in your pack or pannier.  I believe the most important item in any First Aid kit is a cell phone.  In an emergency, you are the link between the victim and professional medical assistance.  With just a little knowledge, a few supplies and a way to contact help, you can save a life.

Just something to consider, Jack

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