Treating a Compound Fracture in the Wilderness

Treating a Compound Fracture in the Wilderness
A compound fracture is easily identifiable, because there is both a broken bone and an open wound. The wound is most often caused by the bone piercing through the skin. This type of break is particularly frightening, because there is often a lot of bleeding involved. Additionally, a compound fracture can result in permanent damage if a nerve or blood vessel is severed. While help is easily attained within city limits, treating a compound fracture in the wilderness can be a much more complicated matter. However, knowing the right course of action to take can save both life and limb.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • First aid kit
  • First aid kit
Step 1
Call for help. Even in the wilderness it is important to at least attempt to get help for such a serious break. If help must be sought on foot, ensure that someone is near the injured person at all times. If no one is available, first treat the wound and then seek help.
Step 2
Examine the patient. Check for additional injuries, make sure he is breathing properly and ensure that he can still feel every part of his body. If he cannot feel his toes, this may be an indication of a spinal injury. In this case he cannot be moved. Otherwise, treat him for shock by elevating his feet at least twelve inches, if possible, and cover him with blankets or coats.
Step 3
Treat the wound by rinsing it gently with water. This should clear out any large contaminants, like dirt or even bone fragments, that may potentially do further harm.
Step 4
Stop the bleeding by dressing the wound with sterile pads. This will help reduce the chances of infection. Redress the wound frequently if bleeding continues, but avoid using pressure. If help is on the way, then wait like this until help arrives.
Step 5
Stabilize the wound by creating a splint. A splint can easily be made by placing a strong piece of wood on each side of the break and securing it with medical tape or twine. The idea of the splint is that it holds the broken bone in place so no further harm can be done.
Step 6
Keep the wound immobilized as you work your way toward civilization. Monitor any bleeding closely.

Tips & Warnings

 
If ice or an ice pack is available, use this to help reduce bleeding. Set the bone only if the flow of blood seems to be hampered from the lower area of the break or if a nerve seems pinched. Work carefully to avoid severing any blood vessels or nerves.
 
If ice or an ice pack is available, use this to help reduce bleeding.
 
Set the bone only if the flow of blood seems to be hampered from the lower area of the break or if a nerve seems pinched. Work carefully to avoid severing any blood vessels or nerves.
 
Do not breathe on or touch the open wound. This can cause infection. To save the limb, a tourniquet should only be used on a compound fracture if the bleeding appears to be life threatening.
 
Do not breathe on or touch the open wound. This can cause infection.
 
To save the limb, a tourniquet should only be used on a compound fracture if the bleeding appears to be life threatening.

Article Written By Heather Rutherford

Heather Rutherford has enjoyed writing professionally since 2004. Her articles have appeared in ModernMom.com, DailyLife.com, ParentsHut.com, Trails.com and On-the-News. She also works intimately with several small businesses to prepare business plans and other marketing materials. Rutherford is seeking an Associate of Arts in business from North Idaho College.

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