Wilderness medicine encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injuries and medical conditions that may occur during activities in remote territories.
Activities that may require wilderness medicine include backpacking, cross-country skiing, mountaineering, white water rafting, scuba diving, and exploration in undeveloped regions such as deserts or jungles. Wilderness medicine has evolved to deal with situations in which definitive medical care is hours or days away, and in which patients may require quick or extended attention. Wilderness medicine utilizes first aid techniques, but requires additional skills that take into account demanding environments, uncommon threats to health, hazardous or lengthy travel to medical facilities, and difficulties in obtaining food, water, and shelter.
Wilderness medicine uses techniques to assess and treat a variety of conditions and injuries, including:
In wilderness situations caregivers should follow the maxim of first, do no harm. Uninjured members of groups should not attempt rescues that place themselves in danger. People administering first aid or wilderness medicine should remain calm and organized at all times. Only those with experience should administer medications and medical procedures. Injured people should not be moved until they are fully evaluated, or unless environmental conditions are threatening and require immediate shelter.