Hunting can provide opportunities for many types of injuries. Being prepared is your best defense against disabling injuries or even life-threatening accidents. Knowing some basic first aid and using common sense when in the wild can save both life and limb.
If you don’t know CPR, learn it. Call your local hospital, EMS, or fire department to find out when and where you can attend a community CPR class. You never know when you may need to perform CPR on a friend, family member, or even a stranger. A few hours of your time could save a life someday.
Many CPR classes offer basic first aid classes as well. Check with your local provider to see if this option is available before registering for a class.
Safety Rules during A Crisis
The first rule of safety during a crisis may sound selfish but it is important. Take care of yourself first. Check the scene of an accident for unsafe conditions. Make the area safe for yourself and bystanders before beginning first aid. The reasoning behind this rule is that if you become injured or incapacitated, you can’t help anyone else. If you become injured, rescue workers arriving on the scene will then have you as an added victim to care for. Seconds make a difference in a crisis, but take a few beforehand to ensure that you will be able to provide the help that is needed.
Basic First Aid
Healthcare personnel are taught the ABC’s of first aid: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Your first concern is whether the accident victim has a clear airway. If the mouth or throat is blocked by blood, water, or objects, tend to this matter first. Next, see if the victim is breathing or is in danger of ceasing to breathe. The brain and vital organs cannot last long without oxygen. Provide rescue breathing if necessary.
Then, check for a heart beat and any injuries that may be seeping blood. Apply pressure to any areas that are bleeding with a clean cloth if possible. Don’t be afraid to press hard! If there are others present who are able to assist you, ask for their help in applying pressure to a wound. If the bleeding is profuse and the wound in located on an arm or leg, you can use your belt or a section of rope to wrap around the limb and secure tightly to restrict blood flow to the injured area and slow the bleeding. This is called a tourniquet.
Call for help! After you have controlled breathing and provided an initial round of CPR, call for help and then continue CPR until rescue workers arrive. Performing CPR can be exhausting. If others are available to help, perform two-person CPR or trade off tasks frequently to prevent rescuer exhaustion.
If you or another hunter falls from a tree stand or other elevated area, do NOT move until you are sure there have been no spinal injuries. Moving a person who has spinal injuries can cause shattered bone to cut through the spinal cord and result in paralysis. Ask the fall victim to move their fingers and toes only. If they are unable to, they have injured their spinal column and need special care in moving. If they are breathing and not bleeding profusely, leave them in the position they are in and get help.
If they are able to move fingers and toes, gently turn them over onto their back if they are not already positioned so. Try to turn them as if they were a log; keep the head, legs and torso aligned and stiff as you roll them. This will prevent any compression on the spinal cord should the vertebra protecting the cord be compromised.
Some falls and spinal injuries that affect the neck area can result in a person not being able to breathe on their own. If this happens, you must provide rescue breathing for them until help arrives.
Using firearm safety and common sense like avoiding aggressive animals can go a long way to prevent hunting accidents. Educate yourself, hunt with others, and always tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return. Keeping safe in the woods is everyone’s responsibility. Be sure to do your part.