Survival I Basic Survival Training For Snowmobile Operators

December 2007 Feature Viewed 594 time(s)

We attended a basic survival training seminar a while ago wherein the presenter offered ideas and tips on how snowmobilers can survive in the backcountry should their snowmobile ride go sour.

The presenter, Lance Taysom, an RN and EMT-P, is a member of the Pocatello, Idaho-based Portneuf Medical Center LifeFlight, offered this brief outline as to what to watch for, what to do, how to do and what to take it if the need arises when something goes wrong while sledding.


Reality based training (be prepared and have a plan should one or more of the following happen while snowmobiling):


Broken down



Spending the night out


Guiding Principles:

Your survival is up to you

Successful survival is a planned event

Something is always about to happen .

Survival in style requires good gear

Survival in style requires practiced skills


Survival Goals:

Don't die from injuries - scene safety, first aid

Don't create new problems - plan before you act

Stay healthy - dry, warm, hydration and food

Stay happy - engaged, active, hopeful

Get out/found/rescued - buddy system, plans left with someone at home, cell phones, satellite phones, ground to air signals


Enemies To Survival:













Successful Survival Attitude:

Remain cool, calm, collected, confident and cheerful.

Establish your survival priorities.

Make decisions then act.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, do it right the first time.

Improvise what you need.

Be adaptable.

Be patient.

Never give up.


Your Personal Survival Systems:


Map reading and route finding

Basic machine trouble shooting

Dressing for the outdoors

First aid



Clothing and Equipment

1.      Clothing - Inner comfort layers - avoid cotton

Isolative layers - silk, wool, polypropylene, fleece

Upper body, lower body, head, hands, feet

Outer protective layers - helmet, bibs, long coat - Gore-Tex, coated nylon

2.      Pockets - these items stay with you always: headlamp/flashlight, multi-tool/knife, whistle, mirror, map and compass, lighters and fire starter, reflector bag.

3.      Personal Pack - first aid, extra clothing, larger survival items, water and food.


Group Survival Gear - Extra fuel, tools, first aid, communication, camping gear.


Lightweight Personal Backcountry First Aid Kit

The Lightweight Personal Backcountry First Aid Kit contains those items that are difficult to improvise; yet is small and light enough to accompany you on any trip. The kit often doubles as a survival kit as well.


Guidelines for First Aid and Survival Kits:

·        First Aid kits are highly personal - one cannot purchase or build the perfect first aid kit for someone else.

·        No single kit will serve for all your outdoor activities. Keep your kit tailored for what you are doing.

·        Check your kit before and after each trip. Keep a running list of items that were used and need replacement and ideas for things that perhaps you wish to add.

·        Select each piece carefully. Items should be of the highest quality and serve multiple uses.

·        Know your kit. Can you retrieve a Band-Aid or safety pin in the dark without dumping everything onto the ground? Are your gloves and CPR pocket mask placed for immediate retrieval?

·        Check commercial kits - they can offer ideas and often are the most economical way to start out building your own kit. Keep it simple - in the wilderness, the more you know the less you need.

·        Above all, recognize, it's the skilled person, not the first aid kit, that calmly makes good decisions keeping the group safe, warm, dry, hydrated, caring for illness and injury and ultimately saving lives.


Wilderness Medical Training

Assists those who work, travel and play in the outdoors. Acquire the knowledge and skills to efficiently manage common minor problems and make rational judgments about more serious emergencies. Check out on the web: Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)


First Aid/Survival kit ideas:


Multi-function tool

Tweezers - fine point, high quality

Safety Pins -several assorted sizes

Scalpel - light weight, disposable - sharp

12cc fine tip irrigation syringe

Pencil or Sharpie Marker and note pad (documentation)

40 feet 3mm Nylon cordage (splinting, shelter)

Sharp pocketknife, 2 butane lighters

Sewing kit with heavy-duty needles, thread


Wound Management

Latex Gloves - several pairs that fit

Knuckle and fingertip fabric bandages

Large Band-Aids

4x4-inch sterile gauze pads

3-inch gauze roll - Conform or Kling

Duct tape

4 inch Ace elastic wrap

Wrapped sanitary napkin

Wound closure (Steri) strips

Tincture of benzoin swabs

Micro thin film dressings - Opsite

Cavit - temporary tooth filling material



Medications - (not prescription)

Topical Antibiotic ointment packets

Providone Iodine - irrigation, water purification

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) - fever, pain

Aspirin - cardiac, dental, anti-inflammatory

Ibuprofen (Motrin) - anti-inflammatory, pain

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) - antihistamine

Epinephrine - severe allergic reactions

Consult your Doctor for additional prescription medications.


Other Items for your consideration:

Headlamp or flashlight

Extra bulb and batteries

Pocket Mask - rescue breathing, CPR

Sun screen, insect repellent

Toilet paper, antiseptic Towelettes

Sam splint or wire splint

2 butane lighters, fire starter

Disposable chemical heat pack

Short Ensolite or closed cell foam pad

Mylar tarp or reflective bag or blanket

Hard candies - keeps the group cheerful

Folding saw, tin cup, signal mirror, whistle, heavy-duty trash bag, money, photos of your loved ones

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