All responsible units carry a first aid kit during outdoor activities. This is part of a group’s “duty of care”.  Knowing how to use a first aid kit’s contents is part of a unit’s “standard of care”.

However, the concepts of “general” vs. “specific” supervision (see my prior blog entry can also be said to apply to first aid kits, and their use.

 DSCF0444A competent first aid kit will include those contents that will permit the group to address most commonly-encountered outdoor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, burns, sprains, headaches, punctures, etc.  “General” supervision implies that the first aid kit, and its contents, be able to address such injuries. It also implies that the group participants know (1) where the first aid kit is, (2) what it contains, and (3) how to use its contents.

However, any given group of participants may include one or more participants having person-specific medical issues that may need to be addressed by the group during the activity. The concept of “specific” supervision requires that the group be able to address potential medical issues not otherwise commonly encountered, but are specific to one or more participants.  Such person-specific medical issues might include allergies (food or environmental), which may require allergy-counteracting meds.  Alternatively, participants on blood thinners who suffer a cut might be in need of a blood coagulating-inducing bandage. Other instances may come to mind.


The bottom line. a unit should not only have a first aid kit, but participants should also be familiar with its contents, also being aware of any participant-specific medicals issues that may potentially arise, while ensuring that the first aid kit contents also permit the unit to address such participant-specific medical issues.

This might mean, of course, that the contents of the first aid kit might change from activity to activity, as the contents should be tailored to the potential needs of the participants!

First aid kits – general or specific supervision?