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First aid in the Florida outdoors: part one of a two-part series addressing common injuries and ailments encountered by fishermen and hunters.

What do vinegar and duct tape have in common? Normally not much, but in some situations they might be valuable additions to a first aid kit. One scenario comes to mind. On a fishing trip far offshore, an angler cutting bait in rough seas slips and slices his wrist. The wound is deep and bleeding profusely and needs professional medical attention. But before heading inshore, two things need to happen. The bleeding must be stopped and the wound cleaned and disinfected. A diluted solution of common white vinegar is great for flushing out a laceration and disinfecting it. A half cup vinegar to a quart of water works well. Duct tape can then be used for closing the cut by wrapping it firmly around the limb or even putting strips across a flat area to pull the cut closed. A pressure bandage can be made by placing rolled-up gauze, or even a sanitary napkin, directly over the wound and wrapping or placing duct tape tightly over the bandage (this places pressure directly over the wound to stop the bleeding). Elevating the wound above the heart also helps stop the bleeding.

Because of its exceptional strength, duct tape has other uses. It can be folded over and stuck to itself to make a non-stick cordage or webbing that can be used to make a splint, secure a limb, create a sling or even build a stretcher. It's also good for securing an ice bag over a bruise or sprain.

White vinegar is almost as versatile as duct tape and is also inexpensive. A gallon is only a few dollars. In addition to being an effective antiseptic, it's great for relieving the pain of stings from catfish, jellyfish, corals, fireworms and stingrays.

Traumatic injuries sustained while fishing or hunting can be similar to those encountered by EMTs or military medics. When I talked with Staff Sergeant Joseph Agner, the similarities became obvious. Agner is stationed in Tallahassee with the 344th Engineer Company but he is from Jacksonville, Florida. During his tour in Iraq and his current training as an EMT, he learned many things that can be useful to hunters and anglers.

If, for example, a hunter falls from a tree stand, one should assume the possibility of a spinal or head injury, even if the person is mobile. It's best to keep them still and stabilize the neck. Sgt. Agner was taught to use the injured person's boots for this purpose. The boots are placed on top of the shoulders with the uppers secured on either side of the head with boot laces or duct tape. This keeps the head immobile. It's important to look for indicators of possible brain injury such as blood in the ears, uneven pupils or ones that don't react to light. But if a brain or spinal injury is suspected, it's better to bring medical care to them rather than risk transporting them.

In general, if an injured person needs to lie down, the best position is on the side. This is called the recovery position and is normally used for someone who is unconscious. This position allows them to vomit without breathing it in. It also helps prevent the tongue from obstructing the airway. The injured person should have the leg he is laying on slightly bent and his lower arm extended to create stability. The head should be on its side and resting on the arm to keep the airway open. This position also puts less demand on the heart than when standing or even sitting.

Techniques like these--and especially CPR, which you should learn at a local course--can be useful where medical attention is not immediately available. First objective: Get professional medical care. Second: Prevent further harm until care can be obtained.

Next month, we'll look at tips addressing heat stroke, minor burns, fish hook injuries and more.
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Title Annotation:FS SEMINAR: INSHORE
Author:Greer, Bill
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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