First Aid Kits For Climbing

In the UK climbing instructors have to go on refresher courses every 3 years and one of the key things the last course emphasised was the necessity for climbers to customise their first aid kits to suit the conditions they operate in. I thought I would outline the contents of my first aid kit that I use for rock climbing and mountain skills courses.

Thus my large group first aid kit now contains (unusual items first):

  • Gaffer tape – 5(+) m. Wrapped around the body of my plastic first aid box. This method of storing gaffer tape takes less space, but I have also carried it squashed flat on the original cardboard centre – the trick here is to cut the inside of the cardboard tube so that it collapses more easily. Gaffer tape does not come as standard in first aid kits, but it is amazing stuff that resolves all sorts of problems from making splints, restricting movement to repairing blown tyres and patching torn clothing.
  • Compeed – In many different sizes. Brilliant stuff that is perfect for blisters, but has lots more uses where there are difficult wounds / wounds that need time to heal – it was the only way I could get some nasty abrasions to heal when in the hot, humid, tropical climate of Thailand.
  • Shrink wrap – great for protecting larger wounds from the risk of infection. I store this folded flat into squares and kept in a strong self-sealing plastic bag that doubles as a waste disposal bag.
  • 6 large zip ties – great for holding limbs and splints in place.
  • Survival bothy – A lightweight ripstop nylon shelter and still the best way to keep a group or a casualty sheltered, protected and warm if they are unable to move.
  • Wound dressings – I carry lots of wound dressing. These will be a mix of standard wound dressings and tampons – tampons are especially useful if you are out I the field with groups of teenage girls for an extended period of time i.e. D of E award expeditions.
  • Burn Gels – I only take these if I am on over night trip or expeditions where stoves will be used.
  • Wound Closure Strips – These are great for deep, but superficial cuts.
  • Spare batteries for my head torch.
  • Waterproof paper + pencil – always useful for noting down key points in the heat of the moment or when the party has to split up to get help. This information should include the location of the group, the condition of the group, description of any illnesses or injuries and the number in of people in the party.
  • Melanin sterile pads – awesome for keeping larger wounds protected

Then there are the standard items such as:

  • Triangular bandages x 2
  • Assorted Bandages
  • Protection: Gloves / CPR Breathing shield / valve
  • Shears
  • Antiseptic Wipes
  • Zinc oxide tape, breathable tape and first aid plasters in a variety of sizes.
  • Gauze pads