A Life In The Woods



On the proper use of personal locator beacons


Two climbers’ distress call from the top of Mount Andromeda launched a full-scale rescue operation and has subsequently put the proper use of personal locator beacons (PLBs) under the microscope.

By Bob Covey read the complete article here:


Wilderness Rules of Engagement

Here are some humorous and easy to remember rules of thumb for Wilderness Medicine.

Ice fields of the Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina. License AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by MrHicks46 via Flickr
Ice fields of the Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina.
AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by MrHicks46 via Flickr

Rule 1: I am number one.

Rationale: You can be of no help to others, if you injure yourself. Be sure to use personal protective equipment and ensure your own safety and that of your team members when trying to provide patient care in a wilderness context.

Rule 2: Always use the other guys stuff first.

Rationale: If you need to make improvised litters or splints for evacuating a patient from a wilderness setting, use their gear if possible.

Rule 3: Replace your sweat, not your water.

Rationale: To avoid electrolyte derangement it is best to replace fluid with substances which contain electrolytes. If the patient has gastroenteritis consider the use of oral re-hydration solutions.

Rule 4: Hypothermia is a leadership issue.

Rationale: Hypothermia occurs when the exposure to cold overwhelms the body’s ability to produce and retain heat. Proper clothing for the environment, along with adequate nutritional intake can go a long what in preventing hypothermia.

Rule 5: If you don’t know a knot, tie a lot.

Rationale: While having proper knowledge of knot tying is critically important in mountaineering and sailing, if you lack the specific knowledge to tie sound knots, extra knots can provide redundancy against potential knot slippage.

Rule 6: Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance.

Rationale: Just like in a resuscitation, wilderness medicine scenarios can devolve into a scene of chaos. The person who is able to control that chaos is the person who is able to do what is needed for their patient and team. Maintaining composure and control will ensure your safety and your patients safety.

Rule 7: Three Bears, not too much, not too little, just enough.

Wilderness Context


Wilderness medicine has been defined as any context that involves patient care in extreme environments, when resources may be limited or non-existent, and evacuation to greater medical care may be hours, days or longer. Applications of wilderness medicine may be in a remote corner of the planet, but also include environments such as urban disasters, severe weather conditions, multiple patients, police and military interventions or any situation that creates a context with minimal resources or extended scene patient management.

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