Ken Johnson of North Coast Fire and EMS Training, an area group which offers courses in wilderness first aid and advanced rescues, among other topics, sent along this guest post on how to stay safe while hiking. As someone who has been on hikes where medical assistance has come into play, it’s a good idea to know this stuff.

From Ken:

Television programs such as  I Shouldn’t Be Alive, have a common theme which runs throughout these near tragedies: simple lack of preparation.  The following are a few basic considerations which can help assure an enjoyable adventure.

Solo Traveling:

Any sort of wilderness travel by one’s self holds the promise of wonderful solitude, but it also increases the potential for trouble.  Consider the following prior to your trek:

  • Have a plan specifying which route you’ll be taking.
  • Share that route with someone you trust, and a time you expect to be back.  If they’ve not heard from you by an agreed upon time, they are to call for help.  Choose this individual carefully; they could be your lifeline.

Traveling with a group:

  • Take the same precautions as listed above, which the group has agreed upon.
  • Know your companions’ abilities and medical considerations, long before you depart.  Be sure that differences in individual abilities and medical considerations are compatible with the group’s goals.
  • In regards to individual medical needs, be aware of their condition, how to recognize the onset, and how to help them manage an episode, should it occur.  Check in these members prior to the trip to ensure they’ve brought their meds.


Many hiking destinations will not have cell service, here are a few other options:

  • The Spot II EPIRB is only $150.00 is relatively inexpensive, and via satellite, can send out a distress signal along with your location.  There are a number of EPIRBS on the market that offer a variety of options along with varied pricing.
  • Many small hand-held radios can be programmed to accommodate HAM frequencies, and obtaining an operators license is both inexpensive and relatively easy.

Wilderness First Aid & Rescue Skills:

  • These skills are fun to learn, will give you self-confidence, and the skills to not only avoid hazards, but to effectively deal with them should they arise.