We all know that riding will more than likely need a trail-side repair or two at some point, right? So a basic tool kit with spare tubes, plugs, JB Weld and zip ties can be found in nearly everyone’s backpack or tail bag. We hope to make it through the day and weekend without needing them, but you get the warm and fuzzies inside just knowing you’re prepared anyway.
What about the kit that you REALLY hope to never use!? The first aid kit! Let’s all be honest with ourselves, we are not a scrapbook or basket weaving club. We are a trail riding club! We hold on for dear life (at times) to these machines that burn fuel to make us go as fast as our whiskey throttle will allow! So the chances of an injury are greater with this highly addictive hobby we all LOVE!
Basic first aid supplies can go a long way to help yourself or a riding buddy make it through the day and finish the ride. A small cut, scrape, bump or bruise can be fixed with the simple tools. This is where your bandages, gauze, medical tape and over-the-counter pain medication all come into play. These are the common injuries that normally don’t need immediate attention but if you have the ability and supplies to remedy the situation, great! Know what that Tylenol or Advil can help as well? A headache from having too many beers around the campfire the night before!
Now lets say that the injury is a bit greater than what‘s in that last part. Something that after you look at it really makes everyone cringe and take that deep breath in and think “oh sh*t!” An injury that is bleeding a lot can go South really quickly if it's not handled in a timely manner. I will list some tools that could be useful during those times.
First thing you should do is put on a pair of rubber or nitrile gloves! That is so very important for both the victim and the caregiver. Gloves will help keep the wounds clean and aid to prevent infections. Gloves will also help to stop the spread of blood-borne pathogens. You do not know the medical history of every person you ride with or could come in contact with so the safest bet is to treat all blood as if it is infectious. Always wear gloves as a layer of protection.
Tourniquets are a tool that can take things from a scary situation to being in-control until under the care of a medical professional. Knowing how and where to apply a tourniquet is quite simple and even just watching a YouTube video on this could give you the confidence to feel more prepared. This is a form of bleeding control for an arm or leg. Tourniquets can be bought for anywhere from under $10 all the way up to the advanced tactical ones for around $30. They can also be made using a variety of items you have at hand such as a shoelace, belt, handkerchief, or even a piece of clothing if you cut a piece of fabric off of it and then use a stick or twig to twist it tight to stop the flow of blood to the cut. “High and tight” is a saying that will help you with placement. Yes, placing the tourniquet only a few inches above the cut or wound is the better way to go but there are times when it is below a joint (elbow or knee) where stopping the flow of blood is more difficult. So the “high and tight” method of placing it as high on the limb and as tight as you can will make sure you get it under control in a timely manner. When you have it placed and the bleeding stops, mark down the time and tell that to the medical professionals when they arrive or when you arrive to them. That part is extremely important.
QuickClot or any other type of coagulation inducer could be used to stop bleeding in an area such as the torso or neck and head where a tourniquet is not able to be placed. These tools come in a powder/granular form and is poured on or into the wound and then covered with gauze or a bandage. They can also come as a coated gauze that can be packed into a deep wound or wrapped around the cut. These products speed up the clotting and coagulation to stop the flow of blood out of the wound. This could certainly be used on an extremity as well and even used along with a tourniquet. A time when this is even more useful to have is if someone is on blood thinners for high blood pressure. Their medication will make the clotting abilities of their wounds slower than others so this will help to get bleeding under control.
-Triangle Bandages (cravats)
Triangle bandages or cravats as they are commonly referred to is a sort of “multi-tool” when it comes to first aid. It is shaped just as you would think, in a triangle form. In that triangle form it can be used as a sling to stabilize an arm against the body for transporting someone out of the woods or to an ambulance/recovery vehicle. It can also be used rolled up as normal gauze. It can even be used as a tourniquet in a real pinch!
Having all of those tools in your first aid kit does you no good if you cannot put them to use! Taking a basic first aid course is something I suggest to everyone. American Red Cross offers many online courses that range from $30-$80 depending on the course. The adult, child and baby First Aid/CPR/AED course is $35 and that will cover most basic things you should know to help in many situations you might meet on the trails or in your every day life.
Everyone likes to have those shiny and fancy things on our bikes and on our gear. We spend all of this money on things that either protect the bike or things that we think make us a better rider. But why not spend a few bucks on a first aid kit to carry. I’m not saying go out and spend a couple hundred bucks on a huge survival kit that has all the first aid stuff and enough food and water to last 72 hours. We aren’t talking doomsday prep here. I’m simply saying to put yourself in a good spot to prevent you or a fellow rider from having a really bad day out there!
The best way we can make sure to have a good time riding next weekend is to make it through this one safely!
I hope that this blog post will prompt some people to have the mindset to be more prepared to have the best time out on the trails and on our bikes that we can! Stay safe and enjoy the ride!
If you are a club member and are interested in being a part of the First Aid committee to help out at our events please reach out to a board member! Also, the brand shown in the picture MyMedic is the kit that I currently have and suggest. They are HSA/FSA approved so if you have one of those accounts through your employer it could save you money to get some proper equipment to carry!
Industrial firefighter for Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery Fire Brigade.
Captain for Colonia Volunteer Fire Department.