We have all heard the stories before, where a pleasant Sunday morning hike in the mountains quickly descends into a nightmare. We all hope and maybe foolishly believe that it cannot happen to us and so we continue to go out either totally unprepared or grossly under-prepared. When you are out away from civilization and met with an unexpected situation, everything you have learned (or have not learned) will be what you have to work with to solve the situation. Travel medicine tricks and techniques are more important than you might imagine.
The Wilderness and Travel Medicine book 4th Edition by Dr. Eric A. Weiss and published by Mountaineers Books is a compact, easy-to-carry first aid reference manual that will help you to be better prepared for a backcountry emergency. Of course, this book should not replace formal first aid training. However, in conjunction with a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification, this book is a great companion.
I recently received my EMT certification and although this book is small in stature it has an extensive array of useful information. I was quite surprised at how helpful this book would be in a backcountry medical situation. This is not the type of book you should read cover to cover and then stuff on your bookshelf somewhere. In fact, my personal copy is in my first aid kit for easy reference during a real emergency. Plus, if you are stuck in your tent while waiting out a storm you will still have something to read! The book covers everything from CPR, to splinting, to specific maladies found only in certain areas of the world, and has numerous tips on how to improvise certain treatments with common items typically found in one’s pack or expedition kit.
My only critiques are: (1) I wish the book was spiral bound so that it would lay open to whatever page you are looking at, and (2) It would be nice if the pages had water-resistant coating. Not only would this be helpful during foul weather but if you needed to reference the book during an emergency and had fluids on your hands/gloves it would make clean-up easier.
This is an excellent book for those who venture into the backcountry and who have a WFR or EMT certification. The content contained within the pages of this minute reference manual is current, helpful, and who knows? – it may help you save someone’s life someday. With its small size and small price tag (only $15.95) there really is no excuse not to have a copy in your pack.