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Ten Myths about Medical Emergencies and Medical Kits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2021

Seth C. Hawkins
Department of Emergency Medicine, Wake Forest University, Mead Hall, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA
R. Bryan Simon
American Alpine Club, 710 10th Street, Suite 100, Golden, CO 80401, USA
E-mail address:


Wilderness medicine is plagued by myths and dogmatic teachings not supported by evidence. This article focuses particularly on those teachings and tools that would be most likely used in archaeological fieldwork. It lays out 10 of the most common and concerning myths taught in wilderness medicine and wilderness emergency medical services, both in terms of first aid and preparation of medical kits. The myths described are provide a structure for the main purpose of the article: to explain interventions and medical kit contents that are more evidence based and supported by modern understandings of wilderness medicine and fieldwork risk management. The list of top 10 myths includes (1) the use of medications other than epinephrine for anaphylaxis and (2) the availability and proper use of epinephrine auto-injectors, (3) the use of suction devices and tourniquets for snakebites, (4) the use of spinal immobilization for neck injuries, (5) the identification and treatment of heat illnesses, (6) the use of CPR in remote areas, (7) the appropriateness of dislocation reduction in remote areas, (8) the use and choice of tourniquets for arterial bleeding, (9) the initial definition and management of drowning patients, and (10) wound management myths.

La medicina del desierto está plagada de mitos y enseñanzas dogmáticas no respaldadas por evidencia. Este ensayo se centra particularmente en aquellas enseñanzas y herramientas que probablemente se utilizarían en el trabajo de campo arqueológico. Presenta diez de los mitos más comunes y preocupantes que se enseñan en la medicina natural y servicios médicos de emergencia en el desierto, tanto en términos de primeros auxilios como en la preparación de botiquines. Los mitos descritos son simplemente un punto de partida para el propósito principal del ensayo: explicar las intervenciones y el contenido de los kits médicos que están más basados en la evidencia y respaldados por los conocimientos modernos de la medicina de la vida silvestre y la gestión de riesgos del trabajo de campo. La lista de los diez mitos principales incluye (1) el uso de medicamentos distintos de la epinefrina para la anafilaxia y (2) la disponibilidad y el uso adecuado de los autoinyectores de epinefrina, (3) el uso de dispositivos de succión y torniquetes para mordeduras de serpientes, (4) el uso de la inmovilización espinal para lesiones en el cuello, (5) la identificación y el tratamiento de enfermedades por calor, (6) el uso de RCP en áreas remotas, (7) la conveniencia de la reducción de la dislocación en áreas remotas, (8) el uso y la elección de torniquetes para sangrado arterial, (9) la definición inicial y el manejo de pacientes ahogados y (10) mitos sobre el manejo de heridas.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Society for American Archaeology

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