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Wilderness Medical Training

Medical Kits

Medical kits are a complicated subject. On Explorer courses, a medical kit template with recommended POMs (prescription only medications) is included in WMT manuals. This can be scaled up or down depending on group size, duration and any special needs related to the environment you are travelling to (add malaria standby treatment for the tropics, omit high altitude drugs for life at sea!). WMT works with the pharmacist at Nomad Travel in the UK to facilitate obtaining for up to 2 years after completing a course with WMT. This is one of the services that sets WMT apart from other training providers.

On all Medic courses we discuss medical kits and a suggested a template to work from but Medic courses do not include authorisation to obtain POMs.

The following is an extract from WMT’s BMC SUMMIT magazine article about medical kits.

Medical Kits

by Barry Roberts

Take the minimum necessary to deal with the broadest array of potential problems. Ensure that each team member has a personal supply of paracetamol and blister pads and an adequate supply of personal prescribed medications. It may be a requirement to have a comprehensive base camp kit and smaller, basic portable kits for satellite teams. You can improvise splints and stretchers but not medications or sterile equipment. 

You may need supplies to cope with the following:

Environment – altitude drugs, sea sickness

Eyes – local anaesthetic drops, antibiotic drops, spare glasses for contact wearers

Infection – antibiotics to treat dental, chest, gut and skin infections (oral antibiotics treat simple bacterial infections or can buy time in more serious infections), oral rehydration sachets

Teeth – emergency filling kit

Skin – blister pads and tape, cling film for burns (can also be used to splint), steristrips, surgical “superglue”, iodine, local anaesthetic, antihistamines

Sickness and pain – prochlorperazine can control nausea and vomiting (thus reducing dehydration) and simple analgesics (e.g. paracetamol with ibuprofen) taken regularly are effective for significant pain. Forget about getting hold of controlled drugs like morphine.

Protection – gloves

Sterile pack – containing needles, scalpel, syringes, forceps, scissors, cannulae, suture, suture holders, dressings

Don’t advertise your medical kit at borders, police check posts and customs. Medicines are valuable in poor countries and some countries don’t take kindly to travellers carrying valium, codeine based drugs and needles. Packing it in a bright red bag with a cross on it is asking for trouble. Take official looking copies of the contents list and the prescription authorisation to purchase POMs (prescription only medications).

Don’t wait until the week you depart to start thinking about getting hold of POMs. Not all doctors are going to be enthusiastic about taking responsibility for providing you with the relevant prescriptions if you don’t have appropriate training.