(Dr. Bones says: We enjoy hearing from promising writers in the field of preparedness and survival, and today we publish a guest post from our friend Morry Banes of bestmultitoolkit.com. Morry takes the versatile multitool and discusses its uses as a medical aid on the trail or in the uncertain future.)
Multitools as Medical Items
by Morry Banes of bestmultitool.com.
It’s been a long time since a multi tool has moved on from being perceived as a clunky piece of steel on a farmer’s belt used only to cut fence.
The market has evolved and the industry with it. Today, multi tools are used for anything from heavy-duty work to sensitive medical emergency situations.
In this article, we’ll “dig” into the later.
Multi tools used by medical professionals
It’s not a rarity to see one of these pieces on an EMT/paramedic, nurse and even a doctor. Some of the models they use were specifically designed with the medical practitioner in mind.
The heavier models are less sanitary and used for tasks that don’t involve direct contact with the patient, like:
cutting and crushing pills
milking or stripping tubes
fixing suction units, etc.
The finer tools (some of them, as we said, designed to be used specifically for medical emergencies) can be used for:
hemostats in an emergency situation
Multi tool used in outdoor medical emergency with no medical professional around
Getting to the gist of this article – what can you do with a multi-tool if you find yourself in an outdoor camping/hiking medical emergency?
The best multi tool for these situations would ideally include one essential piece – solid and sturdy shears which could also be used as a hemostat.
Simply because a lot of these emergencies might call for exposing the area where the injury is.
But no matter how good the shears in the multi tool are, in the end it all comes to knowing what you’re doing. Let’s look at some of these scenarios:
Scenario 1: You need to remove the shoes to expose the injured area
Ideally, you would be able to slip the shoes off. If that’s not an option, you proceed to cut them off:
try to slip the scissors inside the laces, cut those and then slip the shoes off.
if this doesn’t work, cut the instep – slide the shears into the shoes under the ankle area and start cutting downwards. Most of the time a nice deep cut into the shoe will do the trick.
if the shoe still doesn’t come off, make the same cut on the other side of the shoe – this will definitely work.
Scenario 2: You need to remove the pants to expose the injured area
Cutting the pants off completely would take too long. To be fast enough, you would have to make the initial cuts using the tool and then tear the pants.
Where do you make the initial cuts?
Cut the cuffs at the bottom of the pant leg and cut the waistband. Then just tear by grabbing the fabric and using brute force.
Note: Worst case scenario would be facing leather pants – with these you would probably have to cut all the way up.
Scenario 3: You need to remove the shirt to expose the injured area
Again, time might be essential in some of these situations, so you want to use the scissors on the multi tool to make the initial cut and then reap the shirt off.
Where do you cut?
At the collar, cutting downwards – one cut in the middle and two towards the sleeves. Two additional cuts at the bottom of the sleeves will also save you a few seconds.
Obviously, this is much easier to do, compared to what we had to do in the imagined Scenario 2 above.
Keeping it all sanitary
The two essentials that are always in my backpack on my camping/hiking adventures are a good multitool with a solid pair of shears and a small bottle of CaviCide Surface Disinfectant. If the worst happens, just take 10 seconds to clean the tool you are about to use.
Using the pliers in the multi tool
The pliers (if present) can also come in handy in an outdoors injury crisis. You can use them cut through piercings, jewelry, fish hooks and remove foreign objects.
Generally, physicians advise that you only remove foreign objects if they are embedded just under the skin. If the object pierced deeper into the tissue, there’s a higher risk or injuring structures like blood vessels or nerves, and these kinds of injuries require doctor’s attention.
Special note: The risk of infection grows if the foreign object is reactive, like wood, spines, thorns or vegetative objects.
Bottom line – only remove these objects yourself if they are right under the skin and you are can be sure that you can’t make things worse.
Better safe than sorry. It’s a cliché, I know, but it’s true and I have no problem sounding corny when I say it.
You will find extreme ultralight hikers telling you to only bring a spoon to your hike. I personally believe that a multi tool and a disinfectant are essential additions to your packing arsenal, no matter how proud you are of your light packing or how much of a daredevil you are.
(Dr. Bones says: I’ll bet you can figure out even more uses for a multitool in a medical situation. If you have a tip for us, please tell us in the comments section below)