Caver First Aid Kit

Speaking from a position of some experience on these things, having broken lust about every bone (yes I know I’m clumsy/drunk), it was with interest that I attended the CNCC First Aid course at Clapham Village Hall, held for cave conservation workers. I’m not going to bore you with lots of detail about how to amputate/resuss or defib., merely to pass on a few thoughts that arose about our own first aid kits, I here you say “what first aid kits?”

Strangely, most of us who go underground don’t carry anything, why, because it takes too much room or organisation, at which we’re notoriously bad. So here’s my suggestions for a minimum everyone could carry without looking like we’re attending a major disaster scene which is what most first aid kits look like.

1. A small sharp knife of some sort - useful for cutting away wellies, clothing, adhesive tape and even ropes if necessary.

2. Avery small whistle for calling for assistance or showing your position

3. Space blanket-for keeping you nra patient warm during a rescue

4. Adhesive tape — (not a full roll) squashed flat, could be sticky bandage type or duck tape (useful for taping wounds, immobilizing joints or even repairing your oversuit)

5. Some sort of pain killer (you can’t give them to someone, legally, but if you’ve got them they they can take them off you and take them themselves)

6. An energy gel - preferably of a flavour you don’t like so you don’t keep scoffing it (useful for those who’ve ‘honked’ as us cyclists call it, or ‘hit the wall’ as runners prefer or for someone who’s diabetic)

7. Now this one’s a bit trickier, most of us carry a balaclava that can be used as a dressing to absorb stuff but they’re not very sterile usually, so maybe a triangular bandage or dressing.

8. A long length of Cling Film, folded several times and squashed flat - useful for wrapping wounds/breaks and even amputated fingers to keep them sterile-ish.

9. Any personal medication (in my case a JTN spray)

10. Now I stick some karrimat down my wellies so I get a good seal between my oversuit and wellies with some inner-tube around the outside, keeps your feet nice and warm and prevents shin grazes. In Chartreuse this acted as a very useful splint for my broken leg and
proved invaluable but could be used for broken arms etc.

Now it looks a lot but I’ve managed to get most of this into a sealed plastic bag that fits comfortably inside my caving helmet and so never leaves my gear, as opposed to a bag or drum that invariably gets left behind when space is at a premium. With a kit like this it should be possible to at least make an effort at making someone in difficulty feel as if you’ve tried to do something for them and of course that someone could be yourself.

Think about it!                                                                                                                        

Ray Duffy


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