25 February 2013

TGO Challenge 2013: First Aid Kit

I was thinking about my kit list for this year’s walk  when Gordon published his own on his blog. He has managed to get his TGO Challenge kit down to pretty lean figure. One of the items that caught my eye was his first aid kit, which came in at an impressive 60 grams, especially impressive considering that mine, for the Challenge, comes in at 550 grams.

Okay, the bag I put all the kit into weighs 102 grams on its own; It's from a firm called “Lifesystems” and it is quite weighty. However, it has compartments that help organise and protect the contents. I’m happy with that, as it makes life easier on the walk.

This still leaves 448 grams of actual stuff. It all looks like this, laid out:


Missing from the picture are a couple of antiseptic gauze patches to slap on wounds, as they were both torn and muddy from the last outing, so need replacing.

From left to right, by column we have:

Prescription medications (iGA Nephropathy is great fun!) which also includes the brown pill bottle at the top of the next column as well.

Then there’s some Voltarol 75mg, which is probably quite dodgy stuff these days, but is an excellent anti-inflammatory, useful for sprains and any gout attacks. Below this there’s some 30mg Codeine tablets (really good pain killers – though I’m not sure if you can get them over the counter, either), hay fever pills and Anadin (Paracetamol) for run-of-the-mill aches & pains.

Next column: a few blister patches, some ear plugs, (not strictly first aid, but a good place to keep them as I have to take pills last thing at night and so I’ll always find the earplugs then), Immodium (never ever leave home on a long walk without Immodium!) and a couple of packets of Resolve extra, useful if you’ve needed the Immodium, or been to a few parties the night before.

Then the two tubes of Gehwol to keep my tootsies wonderfully refreshed. Then zinc oxide tear-able tape, some Anusol (the clue’s in the name), a tube of antiseptic cream, a small tin of Vaseline, half a dozen ‘steristrips’ useful for closing open wounds, a long strip of plasters that you cut to suit, a few small plasters, a half inch wide roll of Micropore tape, a crepe bandage with safety pin, antihistamine cream, tweezers, sharp scissors, lighter, and a couple of antiseptic wipes (that look a bit dog eared and need replacing)

To this I can also add a couple of buffs that I always take with me that I can use for bandages or tourniquets.

Packed up it looks like this


This very first aid kit helped put my hand back to together again after I had fought a very one sided tussle with a barbed fence in the Borders a couple of years ago. I damaged a nerve and ripped a tendon, the tears having gone down to the bones in my hand. I was lucky to have been patched up by someone I was walking with who, I was told later by the hand surgeon, had done an incredibly good job of it.


Answer yourself this question: Could your own first aid kit have sorted this out? And remember, this is just one injury, to one limb. If you have a tumble in the middle of sod-all, miles from anywhere, you could be splitting open your head and a leg as well.


  1. Hmm, that's very similar to my own, so I hope that's a good thing! Obviously my personal meds are different (and may have a new companion this year, deep joy...) and there are a couple of items I would never have any need for (trust me, I wouldn't) but otherwise that's very reassuring. Thanks Alan!
    Thinking about kit eh? That would suggest you're thinking of being organised. Nah, never. You're in the last minute panic brigade. Besides, I've not even done a practice pack yet.

    1. I have indeed been beavering away at the kit list. There are quite a few changes for this year, as I'm going back to my trusty old Scarpa Nepals big heavy leather boots, with some spiky bits.

      The new heavier fleece from TGO features as well, plus some spare shoes. There are savings elsewhere, however. It's a work in progress

      It's all yor fault, by the way - this list thing...

    2. Now Alan, you know it makes sense! You can thank me later, a wee dram will do ;-)

  2. Apart from your specialised medicines that could be my FA kit, I even use the same case.. I also include a knee support, which I hope not to need (pun) but did on the Coolins when I did not have it, big mistake. I also have a tick remover, although not required that yet, at least not on the Challenge. I use a couple of small crabs to clip the case to the outside of the sack (in good weather) so that it is easily available rather than trying to dig through my gear when I want to find a plaster. As well as a spare lighter I also keep my spare AA batteries in the kit.

    1. It sounds like you need to include some de-lousing powder for all your ticks and crabs, Pete.

  3. I have a rather fine collection of beta blockers, ace inhibitors, blood thinners, potions and spells, but apart from that, as far as f rist aid is concerned, I'm stuffed. Gaffa tape is my only hope. Together, though , we could open a mobile branch of Boots.

    1. String's the thing, which I keep in my ditty bag.

      Marvellous stuff, string. And gaffa tape, of course. The Challenge Control Mega Computer at the Park Hotel is held together with the stuff.

      Or is that the Controller? Phil & Andy are, to my certain knowledge. Although every one of Andy's fingers and toes was wrapped in Micropore last year.

      We are all in the abosolute peak of condition.

    2. I go with Duck tape. It's like the Force; it has a light side, a dark side and holds the Universe together!

  4. Hi Al - apart from the personal meds (mine are different!) that's pretty much what I carry too. Including a large hanky that could be used like a triangular bandage and a few pairs of lightweight plastic gloves (in case it's someone else's blood)......I also have a tick remover (which I have used quite a lot in the past) and a small bottle of hand sanitizer stuff. There's a small bottle of pure lavender oil for small wounds (and it smells nice) along with some very small lightweight bags (if I need to throw away any bloody plasters) and some serious lip salve. Well it might be sunny.......
    I could go on.......but there wouldn't be enough room in the bag........

    1. Are you sure the rubber gloves are for first aid, Missy?
      Does this lavender oil thing work then? That's new to me - I'll have to look in to that. Ta.

      I carry my lip-salve in my chest pocket so it's always there. You should ask Phil about lip-salve. (Hint: He will never, ever, loan his lip-salve out again...)

  5. There is a long list of UL bollicks going around. The first aid kit was one I would have wrote about but on account I am writing housing policy and other stuff for work and a course I am on, I have been a tad busy. So well done on this.

    Ok stupid ideas. You can use clothing, the stuff like wood laying around etc. Well fact. Once you’re injured you want a fix fast. Having a good first aid kit matters. I only split my head open. In the hills and have little experience of needing a first aid kit. We had a fair bit kit with us – which helped till the ambulance arrived to stop me bleeding lots of claret all over my mates. I shudder to think about ripping my clothing up to bandage my head up. What mattered was the right kit for the job there and then. Not fanny arsing about cutting clothing up and the like. The assumption it wont be me is false.

    1. Ooh - I think that might be a bit harsh, fella. Some may be able to cope with a bit of araldite and gaffa tape mixed up with antiseptic cream.

      I would wait and see what they carry before "having a go" though.
      I, like you, prefer to know that I have what I need all in one place.

  6. Good evening. First-aid Instructor (Rtd.hurt) here.
    Different strokes/ whatever works for you etc etc.
    Couple of observations.
    These little tightly packed cases look really neat, but when you try to find something in the cold and rain (and panic) there is a tendency to spill stuff on the ground.A few FA pros use a plastic carrier bag ( not the thin supermarket ones !)They roll-up smalland pack away easily, and when you need something there is plenty rummage space.
    I would not carry the Resolve or the Vaseline, but obviously I don't go to the same kind of party as you.
    Do you need full tubes and tins of creams ? The estimable Alan Rayner did a post a few months ago about "straws"
    A small tube of Superglue does a better job of closing major wounds than Steristrips, but you probably need to have seen it used before you try it yourself.
    Given the age profile of Challengers, a couple of Aspirin might be useful in case of heart attack (dissolve slowly on tongue - they are not allowed to tell you that on FA courses !)

  7. Hi OM

    The large rummaging bag is a splendid idea. I shall have a go at that. When I cut my hand open I did indeed spill stuff all over the shop, as I was quite shaken up.

    I would like to see the super-glue thing being done - I wouldn't have a clue how to do that. For a big gash at the moment I would tend to use the tear-able zip oxide to do the bulk of the closing and the steristrips to make it a bit tidier - or on little deep slices.

    I'm always wary of Aspirin as I'm not supposed to have it ('cos of the kidney thing) and I often forget whether it's Paracetamol or Aspirin I'm not supposed to take, so taking only the one sorts that out. (I have a crap memory like that)

    I suppose I could take some on a pot labelled "NOT FOR ME!" though.

    It's a very good point you make, as your first aid kit is not necessarily for you - it's just as likely to be used on someone else, so Aspirin should be carried.

    Thanks, Retired F A'er.

    1. Hi Alan

      Some people with asthma can't tolerate Aspirin - it can trigger an attack - so best to know (if possible) before administering this to them. Not being able to breath won't help a suspected heart attack victim much! I suppose it depends on how bad the asthma attack would be (but you won't be able to predict that and it could be fatal) and any oxygen deprivation to the heart can't be a good thing if your having a heart attack.

    2. Thanks for that Gibson

      I suppose it makes sense to find out about your fellow walkers before you set off.

      For instance, for this TGO Challenge coming up, I already know quite a bit about my friends' (Andy & Phil) medical history, but I haven't a clue if they are allergic to anything. Some people can have an allergic reaction to elastoplast.

      The organisers already make us fill in a form listing our medical conditions that we feel could be useful to know should a rescue be needed, but I'm not sure if conditions like Aspirin/ allergy / asthma always get included.

      I know for certain that some people feel awkward listing all this stuff, but it is really important.

  8. Yes the super-glue is a great idea invented for army on the battle field.

    1. I learn something everyday on here.
      Ta, "Lost Again" and welcome.

  9. The last FA course I was on sanctioned the aspirin - it can save a life after a heart attack. Of course you can improvise clothing etc. but you still need to carry the basics......

    1. Ta Laura.
      Then I shall definitely add them to my kit. Have you seen the age of the old folk I'm walking with this year???

  10. I'm surprised not to see a few safety pins included - light weight and very versatile; a couple of big 'nappy pins' can help improvise slings from existing clothing for instance. I carry my FA kit inside a poly bag - provides extra weather protection and an easy place to gather any rummagey fallout if rooting through the kit to find a specific something.A couple of non-adherent sterile wound dressings are cheap, flat easy to tape in place with duct tape - try Melolin or meopore. Above all else I carry a separate readily accessible field dressing which can be used as immediate first aid for wounds. Once the blood is stemmed, you've got time to stop flapping and plan things with a little less urgency.Mil surplus ones are bombproof but Boots etc sell them as 'ambulance dressings', but they need a waterproof (sandwich bag) outer to keep them dry and clean in a pocket. Essential if walking solo; Sod's Law suggests a solo walker should be able to do basic first aid having hurt their prime hand ('cos that's the one you are most likely to injure). Sobering thought anyone...?

    1. Hi Jules

      Thanks for that. I like the sound of those "ambulance dressings" - I know from the injury shown above how tricky it is to try to fix yourself, one handed.

      As I said above, there are a couple of Melolin pads missing from the photo, as the packets were slightly torn and muddy, from dropping them last time I was out helping a lady with her dog that had bitten her.

      Good point about the safety pins too - they weigh sod-all. For slings I would use one of the buffs - I always take two with me. they are ideal for the job.

  11. The idea with the gaffa/duct tape is to wrap several 3 inch sections around the top of the walking pole - easy to find and easy to pull off. Its not sterile, but this may be the elast of your problems if your blood vessels are gushing. And you can fix other stuff with it too!
    No need to cut up your clothing, unless you like this type of thing (I believe Yoko had people do it to her once as an art performance)

  12. Lots of food for thought in the post and the comments - I think I shall dig my little bag out and have a rethink.

    1. Hello, Treasure!

      I always find it surprising when I check my own first aid kit - there's always quite a lot missing, as I invariably seem to use up a lot of it on other people and forget to re-stock it or replenish horribly manky looking stuff that's been in there far too long.


      Hopefully this post will actually help someone one day.

  13. I can vouch for the lavender oil being excellent for burns. Used it after a toffee coated popcorn incident (don't ask!) when nothing else would deal with the pain. It'll also send you to sleep (sniff, don't imbibe)! Andy

    1. Even though it sounds awfully 'gurly', I'm going to have to try and hunt for some of this stuff.

  14. It's not only being able to dress a wound with the 'wrong' hand - just getting the rucksack off may not be possible as I discovered after I fell and broke my shoulder......worth thinking about where you keep the FA and other emergency items e.g. phone, whistle, or foil blanket........

    1. That's a very good point. I remember your predicament. I also recall reading how Paul Besley had problems as well.

      This needs to be given some thought.

  15. All very interesting. I think Dr Ali did a list after your incident Alan, that those of us who were there may have used to beef up our kits. That took the weight of mine to about 400gm + personal medicine, including 40gm for the Eagle Creek bag. Mine hasn't been used in anger since, as when I needed it after falling off my bike I'd forgotten to pack it!
    I suspect that if Gordon had witnessed your incident, and perhaps a few more 'Challenge situations', his bag would be a little heavier. Good luck to him though.
    I note you are taking proper footwear this (just a matter of) time.

    1. Hi Martin
      I remembered that as well, but I hunted for it on the TGO Challenge Message Board and couldn't find it. Fortunately,
      we've had OM's useful comments, but it would be good to hear from a doctor as well.

      I can't remember when I last had first aid training - I think it was twenty years ago. It would be a good idea to go on a refresher, really.

      Yes - I'm back in the Scarpa Nepals this year as I expect to be doing quite a bit of snowy stuff this time around and when I wore plimsolls I generally tried to avoid it, which is a shame. if it wasn't for the snow I would be in my Raptors though. Fabulous for wet crossings but not so fabulous for snowy ones.

  16. My first aid kit is again very similar to yours - I've often thought about cutting it down to some incredibly small weight, but never quite have the courage to take anything out of it! Like many people I suppose, I'd rather carry these things and never use them, than want them and not have them with me.....

    1. I just need to make sure that the people I'm walking with also have good kits, or make sure they know where mine is in my pack: Just under the lid at the very top of the main sack.

      As I see it, it doesn't make any sense to cut a few hundred grams off something that really could stop you either bleeding like a stuck pig or getting horribly infected through a wound you can't keep protected.

    2. It's a few years since Geoff and I did a big trip in the States, but your comment about infected wounds just reminded me that we always used to get a couple of prescriptions for antibiotics each off our GP before we went out into the wilderness over there. You don't want to be stuck somewhere for several days with a bone sticking out or something, without a bit of medicinal help!

  17. When I cut a vein in my shin on my Broads to Lakes walk a big crepe bandage was the answer to stop the bleeding. Large Elastoplast strip was useless.

    Sorry for getting confused about your non-presence last Wednesday.

    1. Now I am confused...
      What non presence last Wednesday?

      When you take a tumble there's an excellent chance of ripping a chunk out of yourself. The zinc oxide can be pretty useful for pulling the two sides of a rip together (across the wound over a Melolin pad) and then all being held together/wrapped up with the crepe bandage that's in the kit.

      The zinc oxide tape is there to hold the wound together over the pad before applying the bandage.

    2. Oh - and another thing - (there is always something else) - I also carry a small (eye-dropper decanted) bottle of Friar's Balsam as part of my blister kit. It is an old fashioned and slightly sticky antiseptic that is the mutts nuts for blister repair on wet feet. Wipe a bit on and around the blister - it sterilizes things and then it dries a bit 'tacky', which makes a great base for compeed/plasters various; essential for getting plasters to stay put on cold wet feet. It even smells nice...

    3. Thanks for that Jules.... This kit is getting bigger by the minute...

  18. Mark Alvarez has come to the rescue. He has emailed me Ali Ashton's (Ali is a TGO Challenger who is also a GP) recommendation for a hill walker's first aid kit: He very sensibly saved it!

    OK here goes but a disclaimer first. I'm a GP not a nurse or better still a paramedic so there will be those out there more qualified than me to give a comprehensive list and like all equipment personal preference will lead to a lot of variation and only you know what works for you. I for example am allergic to inadine and compeed never seems to help me but others will swear by both. I try to take things that are versatile and multifunctional and capable of dealing with a large wound.

    Most important to clean it. No use putting inadine/ antiseptics on if there are big lumps of soil/grit in the wound.

    Cotton wool balls - douse with water first then use to clean the wound only use wet or the fibres stick in the wounds.
    Steristrips - I carry a couple of packs of thin and thick ones - weigh next to nothing and great for holding cuts together before applying melonin. Leave on till wound healed. Cut to size.
    Antiseptic creams/alcohol wipes - I don't bother, heavy and very little evidence they help prevent infection and they keep the wound soggy when you want it to dry out. Inadine possibly the exception to the rule - can buy impregnated in gauze which you put between the wound and the melonin. Again avoid buying in dressings with an adhesive edge as you are stuck if the wound is bigger than the dressing. It's used routinely in hospitals but I think the evidence base for it over a dry non stick dressing isn't great.
    3-4 10x10cm melonin non stick dressing WITHOUT a sticky border. Can be cut to size and overlapped for a big wound. Shiny side goes against the wound. Can stay on for several days if necessary
    micropore tape - to stick down the melonin. Make sure all the edge is sealed.
    Light crepe bandage - I use over melonin on limbs so it doesn't get rubbed by clothing etc
    second skin dressings - lots of varieties basically layer of clear film good for grazes or mild burns if skin broken.
    A small assortment of plasters for little wounds eg fingers

    Tweezers - good for picking dirt out of wound and pulling together skin from cuts and grazes.
    Small pair of sharp scissors - if you don't have one on your penknife.

    As many solutions as there are Challengers!
    If lots of fluid I pop and let fluid out then cover with micropore tape to stop the layers of skin rubbing and forming more fluid.

    Compeed - if it suits your feet. I find ok for heel blisters but no good for me for toes.
    Moleskin - Excessive padding may makes things worse as the blister has often formed due to excess pressure but sometimes a bit of padding can spread the pressure.
    Creams/ foot balms - I don't use them but very much a personal thing.


    I use an elasticated self adhesive bandage. Not sure what it's called but it's blue and is sold in Boots.

    Fingers/toes breaks/sprains - "neighbour strap" to the nearest undamaged finger with micropore. Any other break is beyond the capability of a first aid kit but elasticated bandage/ micropore/spare laces could be used to attach a pole as a splint if desperate.


    Paracetamol/ ibuprofen (not for you ALAN!) - for temps/pain
    Loperamide - for diarrhoea
    Antihistamines - in case of allergic reaction
    Hydrocortisone - for allergic rashes
    Daktacort cream - for fungal infection eg athletes foot
    Vaseline - sore lips/ chaffing in other areas!
    Ladies—if prone think about anti thrush treatment—not nice if several days walk from a chemist.
    I carry a course of antibiotics and some prescription strength painkillers. Never used either on myself but usually find someone who needs them along the way!

    Hope that’s helpful - bound to have forgotten something and I'm sure there are folks out there who will disagree with a lot of it.

  19. Hi Alan,

    Well LOONEY on the loose, or what!

    I've just got back from a couple of days around Kinder - carry in my pack my *ollocks first aid kit! I can't believe how assumptions can be made so easily!

    Looking at what you carry and what I carry, I'd agree there is a difference, but, it's not so great as may appear.

    I have my bits in a large plastic bag in the lid of my pack along with my toolcard - tweezers and pin and sissors - and a wad of kitchen roll. I don't need loads of pills and potions so that keeps the weight down. And, if push came to shove I would use spare clothing or what ever. The plaster is cut and use stuff, enought to go round an arm or leg. I also have cord and can use my ridgerest as a splint - if needed.

    Oh, yes I have badly cut my hand - not nearly as bad as you, but loads of blood. And I have bruised and gashed my shin - it too bled a lot. BUT I have the stuff to deal with it.

    I read that it was better to clean a wound rather than put antiseptic cream on it - so I stopped carrying antiseptic cream.

    And, I've been walking and backpacking a long long time. OK I could have died on some trips - by falling a long way. But for any other eventuality, I don't think I'm as *ollocks lightweight as some may like to think.

    Rant over, see you in the Bree Louise.

    1. Hello Sweetness
      I hope you've had a good trip - at least the weather was good for you.

      I don't think anyone was implying on this thread that you were a "looney" at all, or carrying a 'bollocks first aid kit' either, Dear Heart!

      As Ali Ashton said above "only you know what works for you"

      As the thread progressed and more comments were added it became generally accepted that most folk would take quite a bit of stuff - and I thought Jules "ambulance dressing" sounds just the ticket to get a lone walker, who may well have damaged a hand, out of a fix.

      I certainly didn't mean to criticise your selection of first aid kit - indeed I was careful not to. I dn't believe others have criticised you either.

      I do think, however, that we have a responsibility to help patch up any walker we come across who has had an accident with our own first aid kit, as we will know where that is. I wouldn't want to go rootling through someone else's belongings to try to find their own first aid kit.

      So perhaps for this reason alone, I think it's a good idea to have something pretty comprehensive, to be able to deal with a number of problems.

      I'll be adding to my own kit with lots of cotton wool balls, an ambulance dressing, a small bottle of lavender oil and all wrapped up in a big strong plastic rummaging bag.

      Looking forward to seeing you in the Bree Louise, Gordon!

      (I'm seeing WeeWillyWilky for beers tomorrow. I think he has forgiven me at last....)

  20. Hi Alan,

    I didn't for one minute think that you were criticising my choice of first aid gear.

    I just saw red at the *ollocks idea!

    I think that folk will choose what they feel comfortable with.

    The other thing about some of the stuff like aspirin is you should never give any medicine to someone when you don't know if they may react to it.
    And super glue sounds good, but I for one would not know how to use it.

    And, if (and not in 45+ years has it happened) I did come across an injured person, I'd like to think that if I didn't have the necessary, they would in their first aid kit!

    The trip to Kinder was very good and very cold at night, but I was snug as a bug ..........

    1. Gordon. Here's Hamish Brown's first-aid kit on his continuous Munro trip: Vitamin pills (never used), Savlon (1/2 tube), two wound dressings, Elastic bandage, some swabs, dressing strip and various plasters, a few Panadol tablets. Not too different from your own kit(and mine!), but each to their own.

    2. Kath Wills is a member of the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team and a Rescue Emergency Care (REC) first aid instructor. Here, she advises what to put in a comprehensive general mountain first aid kit for a group of people.


      This article has been written to look after a group of people but I see no difference in the requirements for a group or just yourself, really.

      We probably don't need the 'blizzard jacket' or bothy bag as we have this kit with us on the Challenge already, but the rest of the stuff seems sensible to me.

      As I said earlier, I believe that our first aid kits should be able to deal with other people's injuries - you might not know where the other person's first aid kit is, or whether or not they are carrying one.

      If I was in a bit of a state and unable to help myself properly, I would hope that whoever comes across me has this sort of kit so that they could help me in my predicament.

      I think it's our moral responsibility to have this kit with us on our walks, especially when travelling in remote country.

    3. Hi Alan. I have to disagree with your last paragraph. I have responsibilty for my own safety and for those I’m walking/climbing/backpacking with (and they for my safety). I also have a duty to ensure I do nothing to place others in danger, although it’s difficult to see how I could endanger other walkers except in special circumstances for example in the Cuillin or in winter. (Climbing is different – it’s easy to compromise another climber’s safety).

      I don’t carry spare gloves, maps, batteries, hats, duvet jacket etc just in case someone else might need them. Naturally I’d do everything I could to help someone in difficulty, but it’s not my responsibility (moral or otherwise) to make sure I’m equipped to deal with injuries they themselves are not equipped to deal with. I certainly don’t expect anyone to carry a first-aid kit comprehensive enough to help me if I’m injured; it's my responsibility and mine alone to carry it (or not). It’s largely about self reliance and in my opinion people should carry what ‘they’ need/want, letting others decide what they want to carry, taking appropriate advice if they so wish. (TGOC may well be a special case if everyone feels responsible for each other).

      Acceptable safety margins will vary from person to person but let’s be honest: we’re just going for a walk in the hills, or a backpacking trip and the risks are not very high. We are not dicing with death-:) I was never required to pay a higher life assurance premium because I climbed, for example.

      Anyway that's my view. Oh, and that last glass of wine has probably just placed me at more risk than a lifetime in the hills ever could-:)And Lynne thinks I should 'get a life'. Can't think what she means!

    4. Thanks afith.

      You've just put what I've been thinking but have not been able or too afraid to express.

      What I can't seem to get over is that I carry what has got me through 45 + year of walking in the hills. I HAVE had to cope with bad gashes. But unless we get into the absubities of comparing injuries and kit to deal with it, I remain confident that I DO carry FA kit that WILL deal with mine and other's dilemmas.

    5. I find my self in a very unusual situation, Gibson.

      Ordinarily when there is a difference of opinion on walking blogs that we both read, I generally find that I am in complete agreement with you. In fact I cannot remember an occasion when that was not the case.

      However on this occasion I find that our thoughts are diametrically opposed.

      This isn't about carrying spare gloves, hats and whatever for a walker in trouble. I would assume that if they are out on the hill then they would have all the right clothing. However, having said that, if I found someone in trouble, and without some bit of protection necessary for their survival if they had had an accident, then I'm pretty sure they would be welcome to any bit of gear I had about my person that would increase their chances of survival.

      After a fall, a walker can be disoriented, perhaps in shock and bleeding. They may be unconscious or unable to tell you if they had a first aid kit or not. They may be foreign and I might not understand a word they are saying - they could even be from Glasgow, which is pretty much the same thing to me!

      I don't think you can be possibly be telling me that you wouldn't want to patch the wounded up as best you possibly could with your own first aid kit?

      I believe that not to carry a decent first aid kit is tantamount to saying "Fuck you!" to walkers you meet on the hill.

      You may well be prepared to risk your own safety by not carrying all sorts of stuff; that's entirely up to you. But, not to think of your fellow man who you have yet to meet, who might need your help smacks of a selfishness of the highest order.

      You say "but let’s be honest: we’re just going for a walk in the hills, or a backpacking trip and the risks are not very high."

      I may not be as long in the tooth as you, but I have found myself in one or two scrapes over the years where, but for the 'grace of God' it could all have ended up with me being a nasty smear down some rocky crag with broken bits all over the shop.

      I have over the years helped two walkers in a pretty bad way - one in recent years on my LEJOG - who wishes to remain nameless, but who one or two other Challengers do know about - who I rescued, bleeding in the middle of a gushy little side-stream. He had been lying in the water for about half an hour before I came along and couldn't get up. He was in a very bad way - he had bruised his ribs and gashed his leg open and wasn't very coherent as he was in shock and hypothermic.

      He was quite old and had had a few medical problems. I pulled him out of the river, half carried him and his rucksack a few hundred yards and put his tent up for him at the first possible pitch, dressed his leg, got him into his sleeping bag and cooked him a meal.

      When I thought he was warm, comfortable, fed and safe, I left him to his own devices. I scuttled off to the next town where I rang the event organisers to let them know what had happened. I was pleased to see that he strolled into town the next day, seemingly none the worse for wear. He did however abandon his walk at that point.

      You cannot tell me that you would not have done the same as me, Gibson. I emptied the contents of my first aid kit on that occasion and used all the pads, plaster strip, sterisrips and bandages up to sort the chap out.

      I will say it again. I believe we have a moral responsibility to look out for our fellow hillwalkers. And that responsibility includes having the wherewithal to patch them up if the need arises and I believe that that means carrying a decent first aid kit as outlined in the above post and following comments.

    6. Gordon - I only spotted your last comment (timed 11:20pm) after I had posted my reply to Gibson.

      However, my reply to Gibson holds equally as well to your comment.

      I notice that you have continued your disapproving remarks over on your blog - I suppose that's up to you - but if you take issue with something I have written then I would expect you to discuss it on my blog and not all over the shop. I'm not going to have this discussion in two places - oh - and the Challenge Message Board as well, I see.

      That's very poor form.

    7. Hi Alan,

      I tried to post a response earlier this morning:

      my computer may have decided to do a wobbly.

      All I wanted to say was that I had no intention of making "disapproving remarks" etc., and I fail to understand how "poor form" has entered the equation.

      I certainly don't want to fall out with you, so I think it's best to recognise that we have different views and draw a line under it.

  21. Hi Alan. Firstly, let me be clear about one thing: I would always go to the aid of a fellow walker and use whatever I had with me in terms of clothing, food, first aid items etc to make them as comfortable as possible, and I said that in my comment. If rescue were required I’d organise it or go for help should that be the better option, but I don’t think of it in terms of a moral responsibility, it’s just something that decent human beings do. It’s a given. However, I don’t think I have a responsibility to go equipped to cope with whatever might befall other walkers and vice versa. I repeat: I’d do all I could to help with what I had available and have indeed done so. If I’d lived in the Highlands I’d have applied to join the local MRT and having had two Border Collies I would have loved to have been a member of SARDA.

    As for being selfish, well, I’ll let that pass Alan.

    Anyone (no matter how long in the tooth!) can have an accident in the hills and it was great that you were able to help the person you mention, but I still maintain that ordinary hill-walking and backpacking are not high risk activities.* If it were otherwise there would be calls for restrictions, more training (God forbid), Certificates of Competence (even worse), compulsory carrying of GPS, no trail shoes - and the rest. [I could have a rant about the mountain safety industry, but will refrain from doing so]

    I’ll continue to carry a first-aid kit that suits me (and Lynne) and in general terms there will be enough in it to offer some help to others if needed – but it won’t be assembled with that in mind and I don’t expect anyone to think of ‘me’ when they’re putting theirs together.

    *Winter conditions are another matter when conditions will need some mountaineering skills. It's still not all that risky though - safer than the winter drive to Fort William I can tell you!

    1. Our points of view seem to be irreconcilable, Gibson.

      You "still maintain that ordinary hill-walking and backpacking are not high risk activities."

      Let's put this into perspective: The title of this post is "TGO Challenge 2013: First Aid Kit."

      Yes, the Challenge has an excellent safety record over the 33 years of its history. It currently comprises 300 walkers walking for two weeks across Scotland. In round numbers, that's about 4,000 man-walking days.

      If you look at the Challenge statistics there are are fair few numbers of withdrawals during the event from broken arms and broken legs. (My own mate, Andy Walker, suffered a broken leg on one of his earlier Challenges.) This should not come as a surprise bearing in mind each event has 4,000 man days in the hills and also, it should be added, the age profile of the participants.

      Accidents *do* happen in this "low risk" activity as the chaps manning the telephones in "Challenge Control" in Montrose will testify.

      I will continue to carry a comprehensive first aid kit, and I would urge everyone to do likewise.

    2. Goodness this is becoming a saga!

      Of course there will be accidents Alan because although an activity is low risk doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. Nothing in life is. On the last day of a holiday last September I injured a knee, although it only flared up the following day. If I had been on a backpacking trip, I would have struggled to make progress. Would I have expected another walker to have a knee support or whatever in his/her first aid kit? No. I don’t habitually carry a knee support and I don’t expect others to do so except for their own use. It’s hypothetical, but if in this situation someone wanted to give me a knee support I’d have been grateful, but the message to others is not ‘Always carry a knee support – you never know who might need it’. The message is: ‘Gibson, carry a bloody knee support in future you never know when you might need it’ Naturally, I’d be only too happy to offer it to someone else if needed.

      I can’t say how typical the TGOC accident stats are because you don’t say exactly how many have been injured, but in any case I doubt those who take part are representative of the Scottish hill walking fraternity or maybe even of the UK walking population as a whole. There will always be mishaps because as I said earlier, nothing in life is risk-free. Incidentally I did say previously that TGOC may well be a special case as regards first aid kits.

      I think the difference between us comes down to this Alan: I neither want nor expect anyone to be thinking about my well-being in the hills (other than to avoid kicking rocks on to my head etc and I’ll do the same for them). The safety philosophy has gone too far in my view (I'm not referring to your first aid kit stance) and I’m so glad that when I started out self-reliance was both encouraged and necessary. So while you will continue to urge others to carry a comprehensive first aid kit, I’ll stay out of their hill going activities and avoid giving them advice as to what they should or shouldn’t be carrying in the hills. One thing is for sure though: I will always help another person in the hills if required, as I have always done, so on that point there is nothing between us.

      I've just realised that in eight consecutive days on the hills (80miles) attempting, successfully it seems, to keep my knee mobile, I haven't carried my knee support. Make of that what you will - but don't be rude-:)

      I've enjoyed this exchange so thanks for allowing it.

      (I tried to send this before but it appeared to fail so sorry if you get this twice.)


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