You are driving your 4X4 on a remote dirt road, enjoying the scenery and the thrill of the adventure. You have prepared well for this trip, packing enough food, water, fuel, and tools. You also have a first aid kit in case of any injuries or illnesses. You think you are ready for anything.
But are you really?
You may be surprised to find out that your first aid kit is missing some items that you may need in an emergency. These items are drugs or medical lotions, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, antihistamines, calamine lotion, or antiseptic cream. You may wonder why these common and useful products are not included in your first aid kit. After all, they can help relieve pain, inflammation, itching, or infection.
The answer is simple: they are not part of the definition of first aid.
First aid is the provision of emergency treatment and life support for people suffering injury or illness. It aims to preserve life, prevent further harm, and promote recovery. First aid does not include the dispensing of medication, which may have adverse health effects on some people, such as allergic reactions, interactions with other medications, or contraindications with certain medical conditions. For example, aspirin should not be given to people with asthma or bleeding disorders .
Drugs or medical lotions may also be subject to legal restrictions or regulations, depending on the state or territory where they are used. Plus as we know, some drugs may require a prescription from a doctor or a pharmacist, or may be classified as controlled substances . If you carry these products in your first aid kit without proper authorisation, you may be breaking the law and risking prosecution.
Drugs or medical lotions may also have expiry dates or storage requirements that affect their quality and effectiveness. For example, some drugs may lose their potency or become toxic if they are exposed to heat, light, or moisture. If you store these products in your first aid kit without checking their expiry dates or following their storage instructions, you may be wasting your money and endangering your health.
Therefore, it is recommended that first aid kits do not contain drugs or medical lotions, unless they are specifically authorised and indicated for a particular purpose, such as an epi-pen for anaphylaxis or aspirin for a suspected heart attack . However, if you have personal medication that you need to take regularly or in case of an emergency, you should keep it separate from the first aid kit and inform others about it. You should also consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication that is not prescribed for you.
So what should you do if you need drugs or medical lotions while driving your 4X4 on a remote dirt road?
The best thing to do is to avoid getting injured or ill in the first place. This means driving safely and responsibly, following the road rules and conditions, wearing seat belts, avoid fatigue and after dark travel, avoiding alcohol and drugs, staying hydrated and well-fed, and protecting yourself from the sun and insects. You should also plan your route carefully and check the weather forecast before you leave. You should also carry a satellite phone with you and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
If you do get injured or ill despite your precautions, you should use your first aid skills and knowledge to assess the situation and provide appropriate care. You should also seek professional medical help as soon as possible. You can call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance or contact the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) for remote areas. You can also use your GPS device or map to locate the nearest hospital or clinic.
Remember that drugs or medical lotions are not essential for first aid. But having said that, be sure to pack your personal suite of lotions and potions before you go, preferably in a separate leak-proof container so they don’t accidentally contaminate the rest of the kit.