Covering uneven ground, in varying weather, and while carrying a pack, can easily lead to a stumble or a slip. And when falling on uneven ground while carrying a pack getting a sprang or even a fracture is not out of the question. While a sprang or a fracture in and of itself is not a deadly injury, it can lead to a life threatening situation life-threatenings through diminishing your abilities to perform necessary tasks or remove yourself from the wilderness. Stabilizing the site of the injury as much as possible will increase your ability to move, and therefore increase your survivability. Here is one way to make an effective wilderness emergency cast.
- Set the bone first in case of a fracture. Place the limb in a natural position with slight flexion.
- Wrap the injury in material that will provide cushioning and support. Sheets of moss or strips of cloth will work. Make sure that you do not use material that will irritate the skin.
- Brace the limb with straight and sturdy sticks that are long enough to immobilize the injury site above and below the injury.
- Alternate between layering clay mud and gently wrapping the injury in more strips of cloth (the cloth can be cut from a t-shirt which will stretch and allow some of the mud to squeeze through its fibers). This should be firm, but not tight, you do not want to constrict blood flow and have to remove the cast later which could cause further injury. Keep in mind that the drying process will cause some shrinking.
- Make a final layer of cloth to hold the mud cast together and, if at all possible, allow the cast to thoroughly dry before moving.
Even a minor injury can lead to a cascading effect of physical degradation in the wilderness. Treat injuries as soon as possible and make plans to get out and to medical help as your situation allows.
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