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Survey of first aid kit related preparedness of backpackers in a northern California Sierra Nevada National Forest wilderness area

15 August 2005


Objectives: This study assessed the knowledge and basic preparedness of backpackers in wilderness conditions. Our goal is to report the findings of backpacker preparedness and to suggest ways to advance this growing sports activity in educating hikers and backpackers on preparedness to safely enjoying wilderness activities by carrying a first aid kit.

Methods: Backpackers were surveyed on sixteen weekend days over a ten-week period from late April to early July 2005. Only backpackers who planned to spend at least one night in the Desolation Wilderness Area were surveyed. Day hikers were excluded in this study. Backpackers were surveyed on-site from trail heads to the vast trail system located with in Desolation Wilderness, a 100 square mile federal wilderness area west of Lake Tahoe, and east of Sacramento, California.

Results: Of the total 232 backpackers surveyed only 156 (67%) carried first-aid kits. 124 backpackers were surveyed regarding injury and illness, 85 (68.5%) of those surveyed reported having sustained either an injury or illness.

Conclusion: This study investigated the basic preparedness of a group of backpackers in wilderness conditions in Northern California. (33%) of the respondents were not carrying the recommended first aid equipment for their backpacking excursions. Clinicians, outdoor clubs, wilderness and hiking organizations, The National Park Service, State Park and Public Land Management agencies may all play an important role in educating wilderness enthusiasts about recreational backpacking hazards, and the preparation required to safely enjoy wilderness activities by carrying a first aid kit appropriate for the level of risk as related to the type of hiking activity, duration, and party size.


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