Every time you get on a plane and the flight attendants walk everyone through the safety procedures, you're instructed to “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” Of course, the logic behind this is that you are of no use to yourself or others if you’re not breathing!
The ability to take care of yourself first is especially important if you’re somewhere far from help, hiking, skiing, trekking, or even cross-country driving. The outdoor education and conservation organization The Mountaineers poses two questions to would-be adventurers: “Can you respond positively to an accident or emergency? And can you safely spend a night (or more) out?”
To help backpackers and hikers prepare themselves for self-sufficiency in the wild, The Mountaineers devised a list called the Ten Essentials, vital items to bring on every hike. Since the list was first generated back in the 1930s, having the Ten Essentials and knowing how to use them has been considered part of responsible hiking.
When backpacking—and in many other situations—it’s a powerful thing to know you’re ready to take care of your needs, as well as equipped to deal with the unexpected. But consider that level of preparedness extended to help others: what if the emergency to which you’re responding isn’t just about saving yourself, but helping someone else avoid potential disaster?
For example, when Tom goes hiking, he packs the Ten Essentials for himself, and some extras in case he meets anyone who needs something. Sort of first aid for himself, and second aid for others. Similarly, Darcy packs extra first aid and comfort items for any humans or canines she might meet on the trail who have forgotten theirs (see her packing photos below).
Taking care of ourselves and others is the idea behind our First and Second Aid Pouches. The First Aid Pouch is red, and that’s where we keep the usual first-responder, medical-related stuff. The blue Second Aid Pouch is where we keep stuff that is intended to provide urgent care and comfort to others, often stuff that is earmarked to be lent or given away. They're both large enough to hold and organize many items, but not so large that they're burdensome to carry. Just as we instinctively dive for the red pouch when we need aspirin or a bandage when we’re out and about, the blue pouch is our go-to when we encounter someone with non-medical, yet still somewhat dire, needs.
You’ve probably guessed already that the concept of First and Second Aid extends far beyond the hiking trails. Anyone who goes to professional conferences knows how helpful it can be to have a little stash of pens, tissues, sheets of paper, painkillers, and mints or cough drops. Having a few extras can enable you to help someone without depriving yourself of something you might need later.
Whether you’re a commuter, traveler, cyclist, urban explorer, parent, babysitter, dog walker, or student, chances are that you do a whole bunch of stuff that requires its own Essentials. The First Aid Pouch is designed to hold Essentials for you; the Second Aid Pouch holds Essentials for others. What will you put in yours?
[caption id="attachment_12504" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Darcy's First Aid Pouch. Items of note: the tick key (works on humans and animals alike), and especially the extra diphenhydramine, which Darcy has carried ever since she and Lily went on a hike and Lily stuck her whole snout into a wasp nest in the ground. After being stung many times, Lily's nose and mouth began to swell; luckily, Darcy had diphenhydramine in her first aid kit and was able to dose Lily before her reaction became too severe. (Please consult your veterinarian as to whether diphenhydramine is safe for your pet and if so, the appropriate dosage.) [/caption]
[caption id="attachment_12505" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Darcy's Second Aid Pouch, hiking edition. Previously, Darcy's First and Second Aid items were carried in 3D Organizer Cubes; that worked just fine, but these pouches make it more obvious which pouch to grab, as well as easier to organize or find particular items.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_12506" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Darcy's Second Aid Pouch, everyday edition. Note the emergency dog leash and small Nalgene of dog treats. Having found many lost dogs over the years (as well as helping people capture their dogs who were having too much fun, and were unwilling to get back in the car and go home after a hike), Darcy has learned to carry these two items to make that whole process a little easier.[/caption]