Bushcraft First Aid – Top 5 issues you may need to deal with.

Bushcraft First Aid – Top 5 issues you may need to deal with.

First Aid skills are essential survival skills. When you’re out in the wilds you can’t just dial 999, you need to know how to be your own first responder. Learn some Bushcraft First Aid.

For those taking part in outdoor adventures and using their bushcraft skills in the wild, First Aid skills need to be adapted for the wilderness environment. Lets think about Bushcraft First Aid skills you may need.

Top 5 bushcraft first aid issues –

  1. For a drowning casualty – once it is safe to bring the casualty out from the water you need to check if they are breathing. If they are not breathing, open their mouth to make sure there isn’t water in it which may prevent breathing. If no breathing is present then start the CPR for drowning protocol. Essential this means giving the casualty five rescue breaths to try and restart their breathing. If this doesn’t work then begin chest compression’s. Do thirty hard, deep (5-6cm), fast chest compression’s. Continue with two breaths followed by thirty compressions repeatedly. After one minute dial for an ambulance or ask someone else to do so and continue with CPR at a ration of thirty chest compression’s to two breaths until help arrives.

To see a standard video of dealing with a drowning casualty click here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74QiUtXcV5o&feature=youtu.be

To see a video of dealing with a drowning casualty who is outdoor water sport gear click here –


  1. Dealing with burns – once someone has burnt themselves either by a hot water scald or by falling in the fire them the treatment is simple. Cool the wound site with clean water until it feels cool. This may well be longer than the normal 10 minutes. If you don’t have copious supplies of clean fresh water then improvise, put the affected area, potential a hand in a plastic bag and place it in a stream where it will be cooled. The plastic bag will protect exposed skin from infection. Once the injury site is cooled it can be dressed and medical attention sought.

If a burn has caused clothing to stick to the casualties skin then cool over the clothing do not try and remove it.

  1. Bleeds and cuts – dealing with bleeds is simple and we know the pressure applied to the wound site along with elevation will help to stem most bleeds. Infection control is important so using a sterile bandage if you have one. For large deep wounds then you may need to use a specialist bandages or an improvised tourniquet. To find out more about these, read our blog at


  1. Broken bones – if some one has taken a fall then there is the potential for a broken limb. Ideally keep injured limbs still and supported until emergency service arrive on the scene. You can use a variety of technique to improvise supports for injured limbs; these are best learnt on a training course. For bigger bone injuries – head, pelvis, femur then there can be many complications and each of these injuries would warrant a log of their own. Again attending a wilderness first aid course would be recommended to find out how to recognise and treat these injuries.
  2. Hypothermia – exposure to the cold can develop into hypothermia as cold blood from the surface of the body to the body core, reducing the body’s core temperature. Wind and damp clothes rapidly accelerate the effects of the cold. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, lethargy and confusion, and later, muscle stiffness.
    If the symptoms are minimal, moderate exercise and energy filled food or warm drinks will stimulate the circulation and warm the body.

The first step in treating severe cold exposure is preventing further heat loss. Removing wet gear and replacing them with dry gear if you have it, also escaping from the wind chill effect caused by the wind.

For serious hypothermia then you need professional help. Keep the casualty warm and stable and call for the mountain rescue or coastguard.
Preventing hypothermia is always your best option! Dress in layers, have extra clothing and eat and drink regularly.

Of course in a remote setting it is also important to know how to phone for Help. Don’t forget you can text 999 as well as phone! Check out this video.


Outdoor First Aid for Bushcraft

If you would like to learn some outdoor wilderness first aid skills join us on one of out Outdoor First Aid courses. Our courses go well beyond the standard ambulance imminent training and use a variety of improvised techniques and practical, hand on, scenario based training to show you how to survive when the worst happens.

Course dates and details can be found on our website.

Or buy our Outdoor First Aid manual.