A couple of years ago my buddy CP and I were walking down to the liquor store to grab some beer. As we walked- doubtless discussing something important like the boobs of our wifes or what gun would be best in a ZomPoc situation- we passed a little old lady who put her foot where there wasn’t sidewalk. The LOL starting to pitch to the side and probably would have careened into traffic or crashed down to a nasty hip injury, but one of us stepped foreward and caught her by the arm.
I think I actually said something like “First step is a doozy” or “careful there miss!” as I aided the LOL back to her feet, but I don’t recall. CP and I like to tease each other somewhat mercilessly, so “Lifesaver Klein” was bandied about a bit, and when I intervened in a domestic altercation taking place in my garage a few months later, rousing cries of “Did you wear your cape?” could be heard.
Please understand- I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Boy Scout. Nontheless, when Annika and I discovered that Sam adored hiking (and that we did too), I filled a zip-lock bag with some band-aids, draw-out salve, wound wipes and the like and tucked it in the bag we would leave in the car when we got to Vasquez Rocks or The Devil’s Punchbowl.
Then came the time we saw the guy get thrown by his horse and suffer a head wound that had me wishing I had EMT training. He survived, but it was scary for a few moments (it always is when someone loses consciousness), and since that time, the first-aid kit has gone on my belt whenever we hike or climb.
I feel kind of douchey- like I’m some paramilitary dad or something. Now, understand: that is MY fault. I approved the cool MOLLE attachment coyote-brown milspec pouch that Annika picked out to keep the first aid gear in. I’m the one who suggested a web-belt with canteen pouch for carrying our water supply. So if I look like an out-of-shape Airsoft enactor, it’s my own damn fault.
On Saturday I took the kids hiking at Placerita Canyon with our friend Jim. The web-belt now has the first aid pouch (which also has room for the digital camera), a 1 quart canteen, and a general purpose pouch that we tuck diapers, wipes and a wet bag in for Miss Grace’s needs. With that much weight pushing down on my hips (I am prone to a bit of a hip problem if I carry too much on them for a time) I said “eh, fuck it, so I look like a retard” and picked up a pair of old Y-frame suspenders to help distribute the load-out weight on my shoulders.
I guess I don’t look too much like a creepy wannabe guy. I just really like the drab coloring and rugged functionality of surplus gear.
Anyways, as we set out on our epic uphill climb (15% grade! And Sam walked the whole 3 miles himself, there and back!) we passed some young kid with a gory elbow. Seems he’d taken a nasty spill near the top of the trail and janked himself up on some rocks, and he was a little concerned that the Nature Center had a first aid station.
“Let me take a glance,” I said. I had just re-packed the first aid kit that AM, so I knew where everything was, cleaned and dressed his wound and sent him on his way. The kid was almost absurdly grateful.
“I think he was worried about bleeding out,” Jimmy dead-panned as we hiked on.
The thing is, I kind of like having the 1st aid kit. I’ve used it on a nasty scrape Sam got across his chest when he made a poorly timed jump, and on my own self for a few minor injuries.
But I get to a point where I start to worry. Should I have a tourniquet in there? What if there is a BAD injury, a Holy Shit injury. What about a snake bite? We live on the edge of a desert biome; a rattlesnake bite isn’t an unrealistic concern. But are snake bite kits even viable?
I just found out today that my friend Keith’s kids were in a really bad car accident- they are all ok, but I cannot imagine how terrifying that was for him and his wife. What good does being prepared do then? And how prepared is prepared and how much water should you really have in your closet for when the Big One hits and…
I never used to worry much, because it was just me. And Annika can take care of herself. But with kids…
I remember Sam and I saw another dad out with his two kids at Vasquez Rocks once. He had a huge fucking Rambo type knife on his belt, tied down to his thigh. Now I have a knife, it’s a folding blade attached to a Gerber multi-tool. I usually just stick it in a pocket when we go out- not because I think I’ll need it, but because it is small and compact and “what if”.
On the one hand, guy kinda was asking to be chuckled about. He had a giant fucking machete lashed to his hip while walking around a state park where you have to work extra hard to get out of sight of a house, and there are tourists everywhere (unless you go way into the back country, like we do, but he wasn’t). But maybe he was just “what if”ing it. At what point do we stop being “prepared” and start becoming goofy assholes?
The rural New Mexicans I worked with on crews in Colorado often carried a chunk of Osha root in their pockets, because a snake will not bite someone carrying it (they told me). And are things like first aid kits and snake bite kits and pocket knives just our Norse safe travel medallions, Hindi good luck bracelets, osha root and St. Christopher on the dash?