The First Aid Kit

The Essentials for a Slackcountry or Resort Ski Trip

Yes, even for slackcountry or resort ski trips, there are essentials that should always be in your backpack. Even when we practice our sports in the off-piste area of a ski resort, it is important to remember that we are always responsible for our actions on the mountains and that we should always be prepared for the unexpected. We call this being self-sufficient in our outdoor activities! Of course, help should always be called should a serious injury occur.

First Aid Kit

The first aid kit, an essential item that often raises a lot of questions… What should I have in a good first aid kit? Before being able to give specific recommendations, certain elements must be considered:

  1. Your first aid kit should be suitable for the most likely injuries in your activity. For example, my first aid kit for canoe camping does not contain the same items as my first aid kit for a slackcountry or resort ski trip. Some injuries are specific to the activity, so you have to adapt your kit.
  2. Your first aid kit should be appropriate for the number of people it could serve. Will you have one kit for the whole group, or will each member have their own kit? Answering this question helps you make sure you have the right amount of care materials in your first aid kit.
  3. Your first aid kit must be adapted to the duration of your activity. A weeklong expedition does not require the same amount of material as a daylong trip.
  4. The world’s most comprehensive first aid kit will be of little use to you if you don’t know what to do in an emergency with an injured person. A first aid kit is not a substitute for comprehensive remote first aid training, and ideally, everyone in your party should have taken it before your slackountry or resort ski season.


Specific to Slackcountry & Resort Skiing

Considered below are the most likely ski injuries, and the associated care items.

  • Injuries related to the cold environment
    • Prevention before an incident is ideal, but if we end up with possible cases of frostbite, it is worth having iodine to treat the water that would be used for a quick warming bath.
    • Although skin-to-skin contact is recommended primarily to treat 1st-degree frostbite, a secondary heat source (ex: hot poc) remains an essential item to provide rapid heat when necessary.
    • In order to isolate the injury or injured person from the snow, an insulating sleeping pad accompanied by an extra sleeping bag helps prevent complications related to the cold environment in which we find ourselves while slackcountry or resort skiing in the event of an injury.

  • Traumatic musculoskeletal injury
    • Since speed is part of skiing, fractures and sprains are likely. It is then essential to have the necessities to build a splint. While it is possible to improvise a splint with what one might have on hand in the forest, the SAM Splint is a must-have. Lightweight, handy and inexpensive, this item avoids us having to improvise on-site, requiring time, energy, and effort.
    • In order to secure the splint, a number of straps or duct tape should also be included in the first aid kit.
  • Soft tissue injury
    • Getting your face whipped by a branch has happened to all of us. We ski in Quebec after all! So, plan to have the necessities to clean and cover a wound in your first aid kit. Ideally, benzalkonium chloride pads to thoroughly clean the wound and dressings to cover it.
  • Evacuation of an injured person
    • In a context where there is no patrol service (90% of the time in slackcountry skiing) and you have to start the evacuation independently, an emergency sled is necessary. There are few companies that sell emergency sleds, but that may soon change in Quebec. Our friends at Expé Aventures are in the works to offer an emergency ski sled. One thing is certain, even if you do not have a sled per se, a cover sheet will be particularly useful in the evacuation of your patient, in order to start the autonomous rescue if the situation allows it.

To get off on the right foot, it is best to purchase a basic first aid kit and modify it as needed. Our friends at Sirius MedX offer different sized kits that are suitable for first aid in remote regions. Check out their website to order your own or to register for one of their first aid training courses.

Have fun skiing!