In this week's episode, son Casey describes some of his experiences as a paramedic, including a stint on Alaska's North Slope. Larre reminisces about how an ambulance crew worked back in the day. Press the play button to hear the stories.
Since the theme this week is emergency services, I asked Larre for his advice on what a person should keep in an emergency kit. He suggested a backpack that can be kept in your vehicle or your travel supplies when you're on a road trip or adventuring in the wilderness. His recommended contents follow. I didn’t have photos of our emergency services family members in action, so you’ll get some photographic advice from other members of the family.
Warmth. Staying warm and dry are key to survival. Larre carries both matches (in a waterproof container) and a butane lighter for starting fires. He also recommends a long-burning candle as a handy way to keep a flame available. He likes to use a candle lantern under his poncho to keep him warm when he’s sitting around in the woods. Personally, I’d use a pocket hand warmer. Wrapping up in a space blanket keeps you warm, and a tarp draped over some parachute cord is a good improvised shelter.
First aid. A well-stocked first aid kit is essential, but it won’t do much good if you don’t know how to treat common injuries and afflictions. Stay alert to signs of heat stroke, hypothermia, or frostbite. Know how to treat burns, cuts, bites (insect, snake, animal), blisters, infections, sprains and broken bones.
Tools. Larre recommends carrying both a Swiss army knife and a multitool. That way you have a range of sizes and variety of blades and tools. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, he says. His favorites are Victorinox, but he also has a Leatherman multitool that serves him well.
Food and water. Rather than carry around water, which is heavy, keep a wide-mouth plastic bottle or drinking pouch to fill when needed. You’ll want a personal water filter and/or purifier tablets to prevent water-borne illness. Pack some lightweight food (dried, MREs, hard candy, snack bars, jerky) that won’t spoil. To be even more self-sufficient, pack some fish hooks and line.
Miscellaneous. Small flashlights are available in a variety of styles. Larre is partial to his headlamp, because it’s hands-free. Don’t forget spare batteries. A mini sewing kit can be helpful for repairing clothes or sewing up injuries. Always have a signal mirror and emergency whistle on hand to help people find you.
Larre didn't mention sunscreen and bug dope, but pack them when conditions call for them. The year our family left Alaska, 1985, news reports said mosquitoes were so thick that they were causing moose to die from distress.
Last but not least, remember that prevention is the key to safety. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order before you head out on a road trip. Dress for the weather, stay hydrated, rest when you need it, and have a good guide book.