M4S009: Wilderness First Aid with Kevin Reiter

wilderness first aidWhat is Wilderness First Aid?

Wilderness first aid involves a mindset of self-confidence and belief you can do it.


Urban Medicine

In urban settings, an ambulance can be at your house within minutes. The patient is turned over to a hospital staff, often in less than an hour from the time of injury, or illness.


Wilderness Medicine

In the remote and rural settings, help is hours, days, or even longer away. You may be the sole care giver. There may be no one but you to save the life of a friend, or loved one.

In addition to the lack of support, is the fact that you may have to conduct prolonged field care. This means you will have to take care of the patient for a long time.

When doing this, you will have to monitor, assess and reassess the injured person. It’s not an easy task, but it is an important one.


The Top Concept of Wilderness First Aid

Prevention is the top priority of wilderness first aid. If you, or another doesn’t become injured, there will be no treatment needed.


Risk Assessment

Conduct proper risk assessments to help prevent bad situations. When you ID a potential risky situation, try to avoid it. Avoidance is key!

Constantly monitor your environment. That means 360-degree observation, including up above you. When out in the woods, be careful of falling branches.


Evaluate Your Plan

Rather than rushing into something, take the time to evaluate the situation. Then examine your planned response. Once you’ve done that, reassess your plan again.

Be Flexible

When reviewing your plan, be willing to admit there are flaws in it. Then address those problems. Make sure you’re flexible and are able to think outside of the box. Sometimes creativity and ingenuity are key to overcoming a bad situation.



When deciding upon what to put in your first aid kit, trauma bag, etc., think of PAWS.

  • P – Prevent or Procedures
  • A – Analgesics, Antibiotics, and Antiseptics
  • W – Wound Care
  • S – Survival Gear

Include items in your kit that address the issues noted in PAWS.

Ultimately, the equipment you need will be dictated by the situation, environment, medical skill level, number of people, etc.



Train like you fight. Fight like you train. By conducting realistic (within reason) training, you will be better prepared to act when the time comes.

Lose your inhibitions. Don’t be scared to touch somebody. If someone is sick enough to let you touch them, they’re sick enough that they need you to do so.

As people become better at their skills, increase the stress level of the training. Remove supplies, add twist and turns, race against time, etc. By doing so, people will become used to working under stress. They will then become more successful.

Play games with people to make training fun. The more you train while enjoying it, the better you’ll be when the time comes to act.

Learn to do more with less. Include self-imposed restrictions on yourself. This increases stress, proficiency and flexibility.


Not Sure What to Do?

Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by events. When that happens, stop and take a tactical pause. Take a deep breath and reassess the situation. Think of S.T.O.P.A.



This is very similar to your situational awareness process and thoughts using the OODA Loop. Don’t rush into a bad situation. If it’s that important, think about it and make an educated guess when taking action.


  • Stop
  • Think
  • Observe
  • Plan Act



Never stop learning and never be afraid to ask questions.


What If Yourself?

Constantly ask yourself what if questions.  “What if this happened while I was shopping?” Doing so will help you to improve yourself, your reactions and your plan.


Admit it Could Be You!

“Graveyards are full of people who said it would never happen to them.”



Stay calm!


Lastly, never forget, you’re just one prep away.


If you have any other information, suggestions, or thoughts on wilderness first aid, please leave a comment below.


Stay safe, secure and prepared,





Additional Information & Resources:

Mind4Survival: Preparedness Cook Kit Contest Entry

Kevin Reiter Wilderness Safty Institute


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