First Aid Kits

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The take out gear pile at Diamond Creek.jpg

On your journey through Grand Canyon, per the Park Service regulations, you will need one Major First Aid Kit. Every boat will need a Minor First Aid Kit if that boat is not carrying the Major First Aid Kit.

So what should you bring in your first aid kits? Here's a list to get you started. What you bring will be based on many things, including the level of expertise of the members of your group.

Grand Canyon National Park Non-Commercial River Trip Regulations state: A major first aid kit is recommended and shall be carried on each trip. A smaller kit must be carried on each boat or unsupported kayak/canoe.

The bottom line: your trip must have one major first aid kit and every boat, including unsupported kayak or canoe, must carry at least a smaller kit.

Small things can quickly escalate if the group is not prepared. For example, a group pulled on the river one morning and a raft slowly drifted to the back as the rower was having an asthma attack. Someone else took over rowing as they used their breathalyzer. Next thing they were stretched out on shore not breathing. The major medical kit and person with medical training was in one of the lead rafts and not aware of the situation. Fortunately a group just behind had a doctor in the first raft and he quickly jumped out and applied two epi pins to get enough air moving that the breathalyzer could work. If questions had been asked or someone spoke up they could have been put on the raft with the major medical kit and someone with medical training. A small cut or blister can become infected. A sunburn can mean someone is not at their best. It is important for everyone to take care of themselves to avoid the small problems that can escalate later. These may not be so important on a shorter trip but on such a long trip they need to be addressed. Keep in mind that for three weeks give or take, your first aid kits will be the closest thing to a drug store you will see. Wishing you had a simple cough drop on day four at 60 Mile is not a lot of fun. Try to plan ahead, and don't forget the simple things.

There may be a person on the trip that has medical training of some sort. If not, someone may be designated to be in charge of medical issues. It may be a good idea for them to get wilderness first aid training before the trip. Maybe there should be a backup that gets wilderness first aid training. Note that typical first aid training is to stabilize and transport. Wilderness first aid training includes when a medical situation may have to be treated on site because transport is not available or difficult.

Whoever is in charge of the major medical kit should also be aware of some types of medical conditions of people on the trip. For example, it is important to know if someone is allergic to bee stings or has asthma. This may impact what they bring in the major medical kit. If the person in charge of the major medical kit is not medically trained then someone on the trip may need to get a prescription for an epi pin and the location should either be known or stored in the major medical kit. One thing to consider is having every participant contribute a "go bag" (example below). This is something labelled by name that is ready to go with them if they have to be evacuated by helicopter and can also be useful even if they are treated by the group's "medical" personnel. They may not be able to easily communicate and the medical personnel are going to need information about them. These should be kept with the major medical kit.

Here’s a list of items you might want to consider for your river trip. The list below is based on what the Park Service recommends in the non-commercial regulations, with additional items suggested from long time river runners. Keep in mind, unless you are a medical doctor in good standing, you can not recommend anyone take a prescription drug, including antibiotics, pain killers, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxants.

Note: Ma means this item could be in your Major First Aid Kit, Mi means this item could be in all your Minor First Aid kits, and Ma-Mi means this item could be in all your kits,both Major and Minor.

Instruments 	                Description 	           Uses 
Ma-Mi Antibacterial soap       8 to 12 ounces 	           Antiseptic for wounds
(Phisoderm, tincture of zephesis, Hibiclens) 
Ma-Mi Antiseptic wipes         15                         For skin cleansing

Mi Moleskin 	                1 package 	           For blisters 

Ma Betadine 	                1 bottle 	           For cleaning wounds 

Ma-Mi Band-Aids 	        36 (1-inch)                Get the flexible fabric type	
                                                           For lacerations 
Ma-Mi Anti-bacterial ointment 	1 tube 	                   For lacerations and wounds 
Ma-Mi Butterfly Band-Aids 	18 (various sizes) 	   For closing lacerations on knuckles
Ma Carlisle trauma dressing    3 (4-inch) 	           For large bleeding wounds
 or substitute (feminine napkin, etc.) 	 
Ma Elastic Ace-wrap bandage 	2 (3-inch) 	           For sprains and securing rigid
Ma Steri-pad gauze pads 	18 (4 inch by 4 inch) 	   For large wounds 
Ma-Mi Steri-pad gauze pads 	18 (2 inch by 2 inch) 	   For small wounds 
Ma-Mi Waterproof adhesive tape	1 (2 inch rolls) 	   For sprains, securing dressings

Ma Triangular bandage          2 (40-inch) 	           For securing rigid splints, slinging
                                                           and securing extremities, and 
                                                           protecting dressings from 

Ma-Mi Roller gauze 	1 roll each kit  (2" by 5 yards)   For holding gauze pads in
                                                           place, securing splints and
                                                           improvising slings
Ma Rigid splint, arm board, Sam Splint 1 	           For in-line fracture, pressure
Ma Eye Pad	                1	                   For small eye abrasions/loss of
Ma Rigid splint, leg board, Sam Splint 1 	           For in-line fracture, pressure 
Ma Thermometers        	1 oral, 1 rectal 	   Diagnosing fever or other exposure 
                                                           illnesses: heatstroke, hypothermia

Ma Stethoscope 	        1 	                   Diagnostic tool for EMTs and medical
                                                           personnel. (If you have no EMT or
                                                           medical personnel on your trip,
                                                           don’t bring this)
Ma Blood Pressure cuff 	1 	                   Diagnostic tool for EMTs and medical
                                                           personnel. (If you have no EMT or
                                                           medical personnel on your trip,
                                                           don’t bring this)
Ma Suture Kit           	4 sets                     Treatment tool for medical 
                                                           personnel. (If you have no medical
                                                           personnel on your trip, don’t bring
Ma Latex exam gloves pair      3                          For protection of patient and provider

Ma CPR bio-barrier face shield 1                          Used for mouth to mouth resuscitation 
Ma-Mi Scissors (EMT type)	1 (medium size)	           Cutting tape, dressings, clothes.
Ma Fine curved scissors        1                          Cutting sutures/torn but still barely attached skin
Ma Razor blade, single 	2 	                   For removing hair before taping,
                                                           wound care
Ma-Mi Fine Tweezers 	        1 	                   To remove wood splinters, etc.

Ma Nail trimming pliers	 1	                    To remove/trim damaged nails
Ma Magnifying reading glasses	1	                   To assist in visualizing wound care,
                                                           removing splinters/cactus spines
Ma Safety pins 	        10 (various sizes) 	   Mending and triangular bandages
Ma-Mi Cotton swabs 	        1 package 	           Cleaning lacerations, eyes, etc.

Ma-Mi Pencil/Notepad 	        1 each 	                   Documenting injuries and items used
                                                           in treatments

Ma-Mi Aspirin	                1 small bottle	           Head ache, minor aches/pains
Ma Hydrocortisone Cream        2                          Used for rash and after bite skin care
Ma-Mi Motrin (ibuprofen)/Aleve (naproxen) 1 small bottle each	Minor aches/pains
Ma Cough Drops	                1 pack	                   For scratchy cough
Ma Comtrex	                1 small bottle	           For cold symptom relief
Ma Visine	                1 small bottle	           For eye drops
Ma SPF 30 sunscreen            1 bottle                   For sun protection
Ma Chapstick                   1 tube                     For lip care
Ma Tagament/Zantac	        1 small bottle	           For stomach ulcers. Treatment tool
                                                           for medical personnel. (If you have
                                                           no medical personnel on your trip,
                                                           don’t bring this)
Ma Benadryl	                1 small bottle	           For antiemetic, sleep aid, sedative,
Ma Monistat	                2 dose kits	           For yeast infection treatment
Ma Emergency dental kit: cement and catalyst, spoon excavator, Dental hatchet, Dental root
canal files, Dental extraction forceps, universal elevator, sterile syringe and needles, Iris
scissors, Hemostats, Xylocaine 2% with 1:100000 epinephrine	1 Kit	Treatment tool for 
medical personnel. (If you have no medical personnel on your trip, don’t bring this)
Ma Dental Floss (Glide type)   1                          For teeth care
Ma Amoxicillin, Cephalexin	2 doses	                   For respiratory or skin infection.
                                                           Treatment tool for medical 
                                                           personnel. You will need a doctor
                                                           to prescribe this. (If you have no
                                                           medical personnel on your trip, 
                                                           don’t bring this)
Ma Z-Pac (Zithromax)	        2 doses	                   For infections caused by bacteria, 
                                                           such as respiratory infections, 
                                                           skin infections and ear infections.
                                                           Treatment tool for medical 
                                                           personnel. You will need a doctor 
                                                           to prescribe this.  (If you have no
                                                           medical personnel on your trip, 
                                                           don’t bring this)
Ma Lomotal/Immodium	         1 pack	                   For broad spectrum anti-diarrheals
Ma Ear wax removal kit	         1 kit with bulb syringe   For clearing ears of impacted ear
Ma Water purification tablets	 1 bottle	           If your water treatment system fails
Ma Insect Repellent/after-bite stick 1 ea.	           For bad sand flea and buffalo gnat 
Ma-Mi Signal Mirror	         1 ea kit	           For signaling aircraft, shaving
Ma Satellite Phone	         1	                   For communication with emergency
                                                          service personnel
Ma Quarters and phone card      $5 quarters, $25 card     For emergency Phantom phone calls
Ma List of Emergency Contact information for all members of your trip. Here's a form Scott Brunk provided. You can modify
this as needed:

Rafting Medical info sheet / Personal Medical Information

This information is only for use in the event that someone is injured seriously enough that they are unable to communicate. Please fill it out, seal it in a envelope and write your name on the outside of the envelope. The envelopes will be stored in the major medical kit.

Name:___________________________________________________ Address:________________________________________________

Person to notify in event of an emergency: name, relationship & phone #_________________________________________________

Personal Doctor(s), name & phone #:_____________________________________________________________________________________

Medications being taken, name & dosage:_________________________________________________________________________________


Any Important Medical Information: _____________________________________________________________________________________

Insurance Information – Policy #, Carrier, Phone #:_____________________________________________________________________

Here's another form Scott uses. While "damage waiver" releases do not completely remove all parties from responsibility,   
and many trips will not have anything like this, there's some great info here that you might want to collect from your  
fellow travelers. This info could come in very handy:

Liability Release Form

I, ____________________________________being 21 years of age or older, do hereby release, forever discharge and agree to hold harmless The Trip Organizer / Leader on the ( fill in the year and date)_________ Grand Canyon rafting trip and the other participants thereof from any and all liability, claims or demands for personal injury, sickness or death, as well as property damages and expenses, of any nature whatsoever which may be incurred by the undersigned while said is participating in the above described trip or activity.

Furthermore, I hereby assume all risk of personal injury, sickness, death, damage and expense as a result of participation in recreation and work activities involved therein.

Further, authorization and permission is given to said trip, travel organizers and other participants to furnish and hereby release liability of transportation, food and lodging for this participant.

The undersigned further hereby agrees to hold harmless and indemnify said organizer and other participants, for any liability sustained by said travel organizers as the result, of negligent, willful or intentional acts of said participant, including expenses incurred attendant thereto.

I hereby grant (my) permission to take me (said participant) to a doctor or hospital and hereby authorize medical treatment, including but not limited to emergency surgery or medical treatment, and assume the responsibility of all medical bills, if any.

Further, should it become necessary for me to return home due to medical reasons, disciplinary action or otherwise, I hereby assume all transportation costs.

Print name of Trip Participant ____________________________________________

Trip Participant Signature ________________________________________________ Date ___________

Witnessed by Signature ________________________________________________ Date ___________

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