MPI Outdoors


A First-Aid Primer

Some things "to do" and things "NOT to do"

The first steadfast rule in any emergency situation is DO NOT PANIC, you will not function effectively and you will further endanger yourself and/or the injured person. Always think calmly and clearly and remember your primary responsibility during any medical situation " is to do no harm".


  • Sit or lie down as soon as possible, get weight off of ankle
  • Apply cold; snow, ice or water to reduce swelling
  • Elevation of the limb can help reduce swelling · If severe sprain, bind ankle firmly with bandage or cloth
  • If walking is essential, make a crutch from tree limb
  • The best cure is to take the time to rest the sprain


  • Apply cold; snow, ice or cold water to reduce any swelling
  • Support with a sling from handkerchief, bandanna or bandages
  • If needed, bind arm to body so that wrist will not be used NOTE: If symptoms are severe and continuing there may be a fracture. Immediately immobilize the area and seek immediate medical help.


  • If burned skin is white immerse in cool water until the pink hue of the skin returns, this could be for as long as 30 minutes.
  • DO NOT break any blisters caused by a burn.
  • DO NOT wipe the area; gently blot with soft cloth to remove moisture and any dirt.
  • Bandage loosely to hold out air, a good measure is to cover with a small plastic bag if possible.


  • Treat immediately for shock, calm victim down and place them at rest
  • Give liquids, but STOP if victim becomes nauseated. · DO NOT attempt to treat major burns.
  • Stabilize victim and immediately transport to get victim to medical help. HEAT EXHAUSTION
  • The symptoms are moist clammy skin, weakness and nausea. There is also a possibly of victim being delirious. Try and calm them down.
  • Get victim out of sun and into shade immediately.
  • Lie victim down comfortably on their back. · Raise their feet to get the head level lower than their feet.
  • Cool victim by giving fluids, remove excess gear only, DO NOT remove their clothes. If possible do not apply ice directly. If possible use towels saturated with cold water to drape over arms and legs.
  • Have victim drink consistently but slowly, if available Gatorade, or another sports drink to help replenish their lost electrolytes.
  • If signs of improvement do not occur quickly, seek out immediate medical help.


  • The symptoms are usually slurred speech, clumsiness and uncontrollable shivering.
  • Strip the victim, dry the victim as much as possible and get them back into dry clothing.
  • Place victim in sleeping bag if available, wrap in blankets or pile on extra cloths.
  • Provide any body shelter available, a tent, a tarp, make a lean-to or find natural shelter out of the cold and wind.
  • Start a fire as soon as you can after getting the victim dry, DO NOT place victim in wet cloths near a fire.
  • DO NOT give warm drinks, they can possible be harmful at this stage.
  • DO NOT ever give a victim of hypothermia any alcoholic beverage.
  • DO NOT let victim fall asleep.
  • Increasing body temperature is critical, if needed remove your clothing and get into sleeping bag with victim. Chest to chest contact is best
  • Warm rocks around your fire and carefully wrap them in dry clothing and place next to victim.


  • If you are alone try and see object by using your signal mirror.
  • Try and gently remove object with tip of moistened handkerchief, bandanna or gauze bandage. Have someone else do this if they are available.
  • DO NOT try and remove any object that is firmly embedded in the eye, get to a medical facility as quickly as possible.
  • Blinking alone may remove any small surface objects such as sand, gravel or dirt.
  • Believe it or not, blowing your nose hard may help dislodge any small object in your eye.
  • Flush with clean water from nose side towards outside edge of eye.
  • If none of above works, lightly bandage BOTH eyes and get the person to medical help as quickly as possible. The reason for covering both eyes is to reduce strain on injured eye.


  • Bathe eyes with wet cloth unless temperature is below freezing.
  • DO NOT use eye drops.
  • Cover both eyes and keep eyes closed so as not to expose to any light.
  • Depending on how serious your exposure it could take up to 24 hours before complete improvement is noticed.
  • DO NOT expose your eyes to bright light soon after treatment as blindness can possibly occur if further damage is done.
  • Get to a medical facility as soon as possible if condition persists for more than a few hours.


  • Food caught in throat
  • If victim can speak do nothing and allow him to disgorge the food.
  • If victim cannot speak and is gasping for air, stand the victim upright and position yourself behind him/her.
  • Reach around and place the thumb side of your fist on their abdomen just above their navel.
  • Grab that fist with your other hand. · Give 6 to 10 vigorous thrusts, pulling up and in towards your chest.
  • If the victim still cannot speak and the food is not as yet dislodged, repeat the maneuver described above until it releases.

As you will notice above in all the listed areas, getting professional medical help can be a critical necessity depending on the situation that seem or that you deem to be anywhere near perilous. Do not take any chances, if you have any doubt please seek immediate professional medical assistance.

For further information on any first aid related situation please consult a reputable first-aid manual. Small pocket size versions that you can carry in your survival or first aid kit are available online at, in bookstores and at most outdoor stores.

If you spend a lot of time in the outdoors and are responsible for your groups safety it is highly recommended that you take a certified Red Cross first-aid course at your local tech school, YMCA or Red Cross Center. This is a worthwhile investment of your time, as you may need the techniques in your everyday life as well as out in the field.

NOTE: This article is a collection of information and suggestions garnered from personal outdoor experience. It is in no way to be construed as the only measure in reacting to a medical situation, it is intended only as a defensive and preparatory posture of ideas and suggestions. ALWAYS rely on professional medical advice.

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