My grandparents raised me in a time before cardiac health, cholesterol, and eating right were invented. It was really a lot simpler then. A person could eat whatever they wanted, did not concern themselves with ingredients, and exercise was just plain silly.

Our family used table salt on everything. Salt was spread on the plate of food before even tasting it to see if it even needed salt. Then came the word that salt was “bad” for you, and it was banned from our house. We even tried that lousy “salt substitute” but were less than impressed with it.

Same family reaction when health officials said we were eating too much butter and the fat would kill us all. That was when “Oleo” entered our world and butter exited the dinner table. Oleo was a spread made from the leftovers from an automobile oil change or something, because that stuff was horrible.

Changes in health and medicine are a daily occurrence. Many changes are for real, and do in fact help save lives, while others may just be someone else’s best guess.

In my early days of racing dirt bikes, I suffered some broken ribs. The good family doctor taped up my rib cage, in an attempt to ease the pain I experienced with every breath. Breathing can be very painful because the muscles used for breathing actually pull on the broken ribs.

The method of taping ribs is no longer done because taping makes it difficult for you to take deep breaths. Taking deep breaths will help prevent you getting pneumonia or suffering a collapsed lung. In most cases, a broken rib will heal on its own.

The change in treatment for broken ribs is just one example of the many changes and improvements seen for recommended first aid procedures. Any person who enjoys an outdoor lifestyle would be wise to stay up on changes.

Another area that has seen dramatic changes in the suggested emergency response is poisonous snakebite. We have all seen the tough cowboy who treats his partner for a rattlesnake bite. A piece of rope for a tourniquet and a bowie knife to open up a cut on the fang marks.

The brave cowboy then sucks out the venom from the wound with his mouth, and spits out the poison. You then wound up with one guy in bad shape from the bite, while the other guy gets very sick from putting the venom in his mouth. Presto: two victims. While this makes for great television, the actual treatment a few years back was quite similar.

I lived in Florida for a quarter century and saw more poisonous pit vipers than I care to remember. For awhile, we all carried a packaged “snakebite kit” that included a piece of rope, a sterile razor blade for making incisions on the fang marks, and several suction cups for withdrawing the venom from the wound.

While this was an improvement over the old method of sucking the venom into your mouth, it did have drawbacks. Many people, in an effort to administer first aid, were actually cutting arteries in the victim, causing them to bleed to death.

Then came the anti-venom kits. Injecting the venom into horses until they produce antibodies to it makes snake antivenom. This serum is then used to transfer the resistance temporarily to the bitten person.

The simple truth is more people die from a serum reaction than from the snakebite. A test must be administered to the patient to determine any allergy or reaction to the serum. Most of us do not have the training to use an anti-venom kit or the ability to lug one around in the field because of the need for refrigeration and the limited effective dates for the serums.

The suggested treatment, should you run into a rattlesnake while outdoors includes washing the area of the bite with water, and cover with a sterile dressing. Extraction of venom with suction cups or a commercially made extractor is only effective when begun within 3 minutes of the bite, and continues for 30 minutes.

Remove rings and jewelry and immobilize the injured limb. Move the person to the hospital as soon as possible. If you can, call the hospital before arrival so they can begin locating an anti-venom kit. Hence, no more cutting the fang marks or field injection of anti-venom.

Another area where advancements have been made is that of controlling bleeding. The basics of direct pressure to the injury still apply. The use of a tourniquet is still shrouded in debate. Make certain you learn how to correctly use such a device because misuse can do more damage than good.

One of the new methods of controlling bleeding involves the use of a Quick Clot product. Quick Clot comes as a patch or a length of gauze that can be held on a severe cut to stop bleeding, even when an artery has been severed. This product, along with a tourniquet should be in everyone’s pack, along with the proper training to use it.

If you are like the majority of people, it has probably been many years since you have taken a CPR course. In 2010, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation updated their CPR guidelines. Many important changes were made with these guidelines, and you should take a new class to learn about them.

The new guidelines for untrained rescuers call for chest compressions only, at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, for adults.

If two rescuers are available, or one with proper training, a ratio of 30 compressions to two breaths is recommended by the AHA in adults and 15-to-2 in children.

You don’t have to be an outdoors person to use CPR. We have the potential of coming across a cardiac victim anywhere. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with over 350,000 people inflicted annually. The average response time for 911 responders is between 8 and 12 minutes. For every minute that defibrillation is delayed, the survival chance is reduced by approximately 10 percent.

–Medical skills and first aid equipment evolves constantly. It is imperative that any of us who enjoy an outdoor lifestyle obtain training for emergencies. There are far more changes, updates, and recommendations than I could possibly begin to cover here. Hands-on classes are available everywhere, as are videos and books. A little Internet research will point you in the right direction.

The hands-on classes are best, especially for CPR because you get to practice the skills on a practice dummy. These skills should be updated every two years.

I am not sure if all this “eating right” and watching out for all those so-called “bad for you” ingredients actually makes a difference. I do know that if I start reading all the ingredients on the packages before I buy them, I will be in the grocery store all day and have an empty cart. As long as my wife is watching, I will eat healthy. Lunch today is one of her favorites, yard clippings salad and lawnmower sauce for dressing.

Mark Rackay is a columnist for the Montrose Daily Press and avid hunter who travels across North and South America in search of adventure and serves as a Director for the Montrose County Sheriff’s Posse. For information about the Posse call 970-252-4033 (leave a message) or email

For outdoors or survival related questions or comments, feel free to contact him directly at his email

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