What to do in case of a hunting accident.
Fortunately, due to safety measures and hunting safety training as a mandatory requirement to obtain a hunting license, accidents during hunting expeditions are not as frequent as it used to be; however knowing what to do in case of an eventual injury or accident during hunting might be the difference between just an accident and a fatility.
So, being prepared for the worst case scenario is a good idea, even when prevention continues to be the key stone to avoid hunting related injuries an accidents.
Specific measures after a hunting accident will depend of the type of injury as well the number of people involved, however there are some basic, common steps which must be followed regardless the kind of accident. Doing so will increase the chances of a positive outcome after a hunting related incident.
1. Be prepared
First thing is to be prepared; so be sure to carry your first aids kit with you, at hand reach and be aware about how to use it; additionally at least one of the hunting expedition member (ideally, all of them) should be familiar with basic emergencies procedures.
2. Avoid risky situations
As usual, prevention is the key; so using the orange vest when moving on a hunting ground crowded of people chasing games; proper use of guns and avoidance of dangerous situations and behaviors such as climbing trees without proper safety measures will be wise.
3. Identify and locate the victim(s)
After a hunting incident, first thing to do is identify and locate the victim. A good method is to call each one of your hunting fellas by their name; so if anyone does not respond, you will have a clear idea of who is in trouble. Afterwards it's necessary to identify the victim's location in order to provide help as much as possible.
4. Divide tasks
To take care of an injured person is not an easy task; so divide responsibilities among your hunting team members. At least one person must contact emergency services and search for external help, after all, only thing you can do is to provide basic support out in the field; so moving the victim towards a health care facility must be the final step and external help will be required.
Meanwhile, another person must Secure the Area, especially in case of an injured animal near the victim. Finally one or more people must provide basic first aids.
5. Determine victim's consciousness and general health status
Once the victim has been located and the area secured, it's time to check for general health status. First thing to do is to determine consciousness because an awake victim may provide more details about how he/she is feeling than an unconscious victim; furthermore, in case of conscience loss, it's possible to face also a cardiac arrest of respiratory fail; so next step is to evaluate vital signs.
6. Check vital signs
Almost simultaneously with the conscience evaluation, vital signs such as heart rate and respiratory rate must be taken. In case of cardiorespiratory arrest, begin CPR immediately.
7. Control hemorrhages
Once the victim has been stabilized, check for hemorrhages and try to control them. Depending of the origin, putting pressure over the wound is enough, while in some cases the use of a tourniquet is indicated. However many cases will require emergency surgery, especially in the case of firearm wounds; so the role of the one looking for help is critical to provide high level medical assistance as soon as possible.
8. Evaluate if it's possible to move the patient towards a secure area
Especially in case of falls, be sure you count with proper resources to safely move the patient; if not, avoid moving the injured person unless there's vital risk. In case of neck injuries be sure to count with proper immobilization systems, otherwise injuries resulted from moving the patient could be worse than the original wounds.
9. Provide support
Depending of the patients conditions, available equipment and personnel qualification, the patient must receive basic support, from painkillers up to intravenous solutions if available and possible. On this regard DON'T ATTEMPT to perform specialized procedures or provide specific treatments you are not qualified for.
10. Don't panic
Especially in the case of multiple victims, it's easy to panic and loss your head; so remain calm, follow the emergency steps and think you are the difference between life and death for your fellas; so do what you need to do, fast and calm, and don't forget to call for help; that's a critical step!
Finally, prevention continues to be the best strategy; however it's better to be prepared, even when we won't need to carry out emergency procedures never.