Coast Guardsmen and other first responders train for common emergencies.

One of the best tools a sportsman can have for first aid is knowledge. First aid and CPR courses available in most communities teach what to look for and how to deal with injuries.

I completed a CPR course that included learning the Heimlich Maneuver for removing food blocking a person’s airway. Since I had never actually seen this happen, I wondered if I would ever need it. While eating in a restaurant soon after the course, I noticed a woman suddenly push her chair away from the table alarming her dinner companion. The woman made no sound but put her hands to her throat. By the time I processed the symptoms and started getting up to help, a man who was closer jumped up and grabbed the woman from behind in a bear hug and applied several sharp thrusts with his clasped hands to her solar plexus. The third thrust caused her to eject a small piece of meat that had lodged in her trachea. She then gasped for breath and started to breathe normally with the color returning to her face. This kind of event is not limited to urban restaurants and homes. It can happen around a campfire, in a tree stand or virtually anywhere food is consumed. This event turned out well, but I couldn’t help wonder what the outcome would have been had no one been able to deal quickly with this emergency.

Spending time outdoors and on the water when the temperature and humidity are high greatly increases the chance of heatstroke. This is when the body reaches a temperature of 105 and has difficulty cooling off. When heatstroke occurs, get the person in the shade first and then cool them down by fanning, applying cool water or wrapping cool cloths around the neck and on the body. Cold applied directly to the head may cool the body too rapidly.

Burns are best treated by cooling the skin down as soon as possible. This can be done with cool water or an ice pack. Smearing bad burns with anything is not a good idea and neither are tight bandages that can stick to the burns. Any bandage should be loosely applied until medical treatment can be obtained.

A simple aspirin can be a powerful tool for first aid but only when used appropriately. For an adult having chest pains who is not allergic to aspirin, a baby aspirin can be a lifesaver. For a child 12 years or younger, aspirin is not a good choice for pain or fever relief as it can cause seizures.

Anyone who has spent time at sea is probably familiar with seasickness. The mixed signals between what the eyes see and what the inner ear tells the brain can cause the stomach to react. When on a boat, it’s a good idea to get plenty of fresh air and keep the horizon in view. Frequently looking at the horizon keeps the eyes and inner ear in sync.

If these techniques fail, there are other remedies that can be tried. An old remedy that works is ginger. A teaspoon of ground ginger in a glass of water should be taken approximately 30 minutes before getting on a boat. The ginger does some of the same things that seasickness drugs do but without the side effects.

If it’s too late to take steps to prevent the onset of mal du mer, the Pericardium 6 acupuncture pressure point technique is good for motion sickness and nausea. The technique involves placing the index and middle fingers across the inside of the wrist beginning at the wrist joint. This is just to measure the approximate distance to the two tendons (Palmaris longus and flexor carpi) that run down the inside of the wrist. A thumb is placed between these two tendons and firm pressure is applied. A slight shock or tingle may be felt briefly but pressure should be maintained until the nausea lets up. Simple and effective!

Fish hook injuries are inevitable. Some sticks are shallow and can be simply pulled out. When a hook goes in past the barb it can often be snatched out with a loop of line. This technique when properly done is effective.

There are some good YouTube videos posted on the Internet illustrating the technique. Hooks that are shallow can be pushed through the skin until the barb is exposed and can be snipped off. Both of these procedures require the approval and cooperation of the person that’s hooked and these are often more difficult to obtain than actually removing the hook. FS

First published Florida Sportsman September 2015

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