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The First Aid Kit: by Bill Mcleod

13/11/2020 3:41 PM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

When I was first issued a canvas pouch containing first aid gear I was threatened that if I was ever caught carrying ammunition in the pouch I would be dismissed instantly, no ifs, no buts. I dutifully carried nothing but first aid gear in that pouch for the whole time I hunted the Kaimais. Carried my ammo in a separate, inferior pouch on my knife belt. Didn’t want to risk getting sacked.

The next pouch I was issued came with a similar instruction, this pouch is for first aid gear,  but without the dismissal threat. Much better field officer. Soon figured out Who is going to catch me deep in the Urewera? so I carried my ammo in that pouch. I made room in it for a survival sheet as well. Used both the ammo and the survival blanket but didn’t actually need the first aid gear.

I did eventually do myself a mischief requiring some first aid. Dumbly didn’t concentrate, got the technique wrong and stuck my knife into my leg while cutting the head off a stag. My own silly fault. Dug the kit out, found the big wound dressing, covered the wound with the dressing and used the bandage to apply pressure to stem the bleeding. Was fully mobile so no real worries. The wound healed. 

The next time I got hurt was while chasing my dogs on a bail up in Waipoua Forest. Crashed into a broken Mahoe and felt a sharp stick penetrate behind my shin bone in the front of my calf muscle. Nothing I could do in the bush so made my way back to the Mahindra to wait for Kit. When he turned up he couldn’t shift the stick so we made our way to the Forest headquarters. The OC said he’d get it out but had to give up so Kit took me to the doc in Dargaville. He anesthetised the area and cut it out. He said take two aspirins for the pain. Being a smart arse I said What pain. That night I knew what he was talking about.

These experiences plus some sage advice from our Search and Rescue doctor in Westport have given me a few clues as to what I carry for first aid. I don’t bother with plasters or antiseptic cream. In today’s world you can be at the doctors before infection should be an issue and if you get blisters, harden up. I do have some chaffing cream back at camp, chaffing can be really debilitating and wading the Urewera rivers in shorts can be painful . I don’t mind being a sissy then. 

Uncontrolled bleeding is, to me, the biggest threat. I have had to patch my mate up on a couple of occasions. I like the big wound bandages which we were issued in the army. They can cover a fair sized wound and the attached bandage can be used for pressure. Definitely in the belt pack. I like to carry a big bandage as well, more pressure if required. I think there is nothing practical you can carry for breaks apart from the big bandage. Who would carry splints when there are pieces of wood which can be pressed into service. Fortunately haven’t broken any bones while in the bush so can’t speak from experience there. 

The best thing for first aid for me was a decision by the Lands and Survey hierarchy to send some of us on an army medics first aid course at Burnham Military Camp.

The instructors were brilliant, the army sure can teach, and we wanted to learn.

So, armed with a little knowledge, a bit of gear and a bit of experience I feel comfortable with my choice of emergency kit. I fully respect the information and advice given in training schemes, they are the result of many people’s experience. I make sure I’ve got my kit in my backpack when I go into the mountains now.

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