Bushcraft First Aid by Dave Canterbury

Bushcraft First Aid

Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care is a book written by Dave Canterbury and Jason A. Hunt, PhD.

The book seeks to provide readers with practical advice on how to deal with a variety of emergency situations when 9-1-1 is out of reach. It covers topics such as cuts and burns, broken bones, and poisonous arachnids. It also provides insight on making poultices, infusions, and tinctures for treatments in remote environments.

Unfortunately, the book struggles with its goal due to its heavy use of medical acronyms and its disjointed method of presentation. Despite this, it does contain some very useful medical information and advice.

Tips and tricks such as fashioning of bandages from Gorilla Tape are very helpful for wound care in the wild, and the spider bite guide is an invaluable resource to those of us who live in regions infested with poisonous arachnids.

Overall, Bushcraft First Aid: A Field Guide to Wilderness Emergency Care is a useful resource for hikers and backpackers looking to be prepared for emergency situations in the wilderness. It contains valuable medical information and advice, as well as tips and tricks for dealing with a variety of emergency situations.

What I Liked

The book is well-organized and the author knows what he’s talking about. The book has a reassuring tone with lots of practical advice.

I liked the book’s emphasis on probabilities. Your imagination goes straight to wild animal attack or poisoning. But what’s much, much, much more likely to happen is that a sprained ankle puts you in an exposed location away from water & warmth.

What I Did Not Like

OK – here’s the thing. Wilderness First Aid is just First Aid + More Time. There are no real tricks or tips. I felt like, at some points, the book was adding words to justify the chapter when the chapter could have been like 3 sentences.

For example, the chapter on snakebites is:

  • Get the victim seated and away from the snake.
  • Get a picture or video of the snake.
  • If the victim is mobile, ditch as much gear as possible and start moving towards transportation or a clearing or fast access trail.
  • Decide if you can get to transportation faster than rescue. If you can’t sent the rescue signal.

Like – that’s it. But the chapter just keeps going – it’s very repetitive.

The only tip for everything is “how do we get this person to a hospital as fast as possible?” The only trick is “what do we have in our pack that can keep them stable for an extra [X] minutes?”

And honestly, the takeaway from the book is “how are you going to prevent anything from happening?”

Now – I don’t want to criticize the book too much since it is a must-read if you are going into a situation where self-rescue is the only option. I read it before doing a multi-day backpacking trip in Alaska’s arctic wilderness, and was glad I did.

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