Medical Training Before You Go

Going along with a previous post about medical insurance, being ready and able to deal with medical emergencies while traveling is an important skill, and easy to address before you actually hit the road.

Just to warn you, I work as a paramedic – which means I get to drive around in an large, expense vehicle stocked with just about every piece of pre-hospital (which is another way of saying “portable” these days) imaginable. And, even with all that equipment, and all that training, there are things I (and other ambulance crews) run into where all we can do is rush the person to the hospital and hope for the best.

I mention this to point out that, no matter what your level of training and equipment, there will be things that exceed it. Knowing this means you don’t have to try to get all the courses, all the stuff, and figure out where to put it before you leave. Instead, focus on the things that are likely to happen, and be able to treat those things.

So, what sorts of training do you need before you get on the road? At a minimum, especially if you are traveling with friends or loved ones, or really in any sort of group at all, you should get CPR and First Aid Training. The Red Cross offers such classes, sometimes even as a package for both. You can also get CPR training from the American Heart Institute, which tends to be a little more up to date with their research but for the public use it really don’t matter that much.

There are also Certified First Responder classes offered in some states as part of it’s medical licensing. When you complete this class you actually get a license from the state, and the class itself is more involved than First Aid and CPR. Honestly, I don’t think most travelers needed the extra things included in this course, since it usually results in needing specialized equipment that are probably not going to be available.

You might also have heard of Wilderness (or Back Country) First Aid. While First Responder does require specialized equipment, the Wilderness courses generally focus more on using item that come to hand, since you have to be more inventive when you are far from help. That said, the class is still little more than First Aid with some added bits for moving the injured long distances over rough terrain, usually on foot. This last part might be useful, but more for the principles than the practice. The rest is more a matter of using the items at hand and thinking “Will this work?” After a couple months on the road, that sort of thinking will be second nature.

Okay, I have to be honest a little. Apart from CPR and First Aid, there probably isn’t any other training you need to take before you leave. Instead of listing all the options and whether or not you should take them, I am just going to put it like this. You really should get CPR and First Aid before you start traveling. Apart from that, you can pick up whatever courses and certifications make you comfortable enough to get on the road and start traveling, understanding that waiting and paying for those classes will delay the trip and provide less benefit compared to CPR and First Aid. Get on the road and travel, do what makes you willing to do that.


2 thoughts on “Medical Training Before You Go

  1. So what type of equipment (if any) do you pack for your enhanced med kit? I’ve done one overland trip with a tour company and caught the bug. I too am a paramedic and short of traveling with an Iron Duck or Ferno bag fully loaded I’d be curious to hear your take. (Side note, how cool would some of those bags be for panniers if they weren’t so darn expensive)
    What injuries have you seen out on your travels that you have been involved in? I personally fell on day two (can’t travel on dirt) and bruised a rib. Thankfully the next 4 days were still rideable, just watching out for pot holes.


    1. To be honest, I don’t carry very much. Some bandaids, a larger dressing “just in case,” and soap for cleaning. For medications, just Ibuprofen. For anything worse than that, I have my wits, and whatever local medical care is available. Since I know I can’t carry everything, I don’t carry much of anything at all.

      As for what I’ve seen what I’ve seen, well. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road so I’ve seen just about everything, but 95% (or more) of the problems faced by motorcycle travelers are minor cuts and scraps, sore muscles, aches, and stomach problems. I have a future post planned covering medical preparedness while on the road.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s