After doing a medical standby at a recent adventure race, it became apparent to me that the contents of the mandatory first aid kit that was to be carried by each team was a bit of a grey area. Teams were producing first aid kits that ranged from minimalist to outright overkill. One team produced a first aid kit that could probably fit into my wallet while another team produced two kits, each housed in large Tupperware containers.
As all the race directors have said, the mandatory gear is not there to inconvenience the teams but to provide an element of safety should anything occur while you are out on the course. Stocking a First Aid Kit is primarily personal choice, the following list can help you to reduce the size of your mandatory First Aid Kit but still provide you with the minimum equipment required.
Before stocking your kit, investigate the race and assess your team’s personal skills. If there’s going to be a long technical MTB section and your MTB skills need work, then pack more dressings for abrasions. If there will be long trekking sections across rocky terrain, then pack more strapping tape. A master kit left with your seconds will allow you to top-up on items used in the field. Obviously weight is not an issue with the second’s kit so larger amounts of kit can be carried.
The following two lists provide the basic contents of a racing kit and a seconding kit. As mentioned before this list is flexible and must be customised to your team’s specific needs.
Anti-Inflammatory and pain medication is a personal choice should you wish to include these in your kit, confirm use and dosage with your GP prior to the race. Check with your team prior to the event if any of them have medical conditions that require specific medication i.e. Asthma, allergies etc. Ask that team member to provide extra medication for the kit; it is easy to lose an asthma pump or medication during an event. Splints can be improvised from general items available i.e. tent poles or trekking poles.
Pack all of the above into a durable, soft and waterproof bag. Make sure that the whole team knows who will be carrying the first aid kit and make it easily accessible. See Lisa’s article on Foot Care for a good foot care kit.
Pack all of the above in ziplock bags into a tog bag. Once again ensure that the contents will remain waterproof. Specific First Aid bags with internal pockets are available. Keep the kit easily accessible. Oh yes, seconds get injured too so be prepared…
However all the equipment in the world is of no use if you if you are not prepared to use it. If an injury requires treatment, treat it there and then, the longer you wait, the worse the injury will become and the less chance you have of completing the event. Attend a first aid course to have some idea of what to do when the big stuff happens. Accidents happen very quickly and in emergency situations, you don’t have the luxury of analysis, jump in there and help, the quicker the better!
Author: Kurt Terblanche