Skip to main content

The Dirt | Emergency Preparedness Tips #6

May contain: logo, advertisement, and poster

Whether it’s an ice storm, a wildfire, or another natural disaster, volunteers from Benton County Community Emergency Response Team (BCCERT) have been trained to help their neighbors respond. Pam Wilson is a retired teacher and a trained BCCERT member who has created this blog post series to help Benton County residents prepare for emergencies. This is the sixth installment.

Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke

Fire on your mind? How can we help it, with one of the largest fires in the US in Oregon, the Bootleg Fire on the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Or the Bruler Fire by Green Peter Reservoir? Everywhere I look, there’s an article or reference to fire.  Look on Inciweb to check out fire status. In the summer edition of OSU Extension’s newspaper, “Growing,” extension agent Brad Withrow-Robinson wrote an article entitled Becoming Smoke Ready. It lists three websites to visit to prepare for the smoke season:


Today, let’s also think about first aid training and supplies. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) website has a brochure titled “First Aid: Be Your Own First Responder.” It’s a good place to start, as it lists the basic supplies to include.

First-Aid Kits

  1. Standard Kit Contents – medicine lists, mylar blankets, battery operated LED road flares, water filter, extra pair of glasses, paper and pens for recording your actions and taking information.
  2. Buy in Bulk – Purchase items in bulk to save time and money. Neighbors can purchase together or get together to cut triangular bandages from old sheets. Pre-packaged kits contain primarily adhesive bandages — you need more than that.
  3. Customize your kit – Just like a go-bag, a first aid kit contains what your family needs. Customize your kits to handle the emergencies you experience or expect, I’m on blood thinners. I carry a tourniquet and Israeli compress bandage in my purse, my car kit and glove box. I practice putting a tourniquet on myself. This is a level of preparation I feel necessary to save my life! It only takes a moment to fall, break a bone or cut myself. I include medicinals I’ve made, that work better than Neosporin and stop minor bleeding almost instantly.
  4. Revise Regularly – Several years ago we came upon a motorcycle accident on Highway 58. Traffic stopped in both directions as the rider was sprawled across the center line. No cell service. Of all the cars that stopped, we had the only first aid kit! The biker had cracked his helmet and was bleeding from his head. We stuffed the helmet with sanitary pads, and sent a car to the Ski Area to call 911. I used a garden kneeling pad to kneel on to talk to him and keep track of his pulse and respiration. We strung a tarp on my hiking poles, 4 people held the poles and tarp over the man who was in black leathers and cooking on the pavement! Ninety minutes later an ambulance from Oakridge transported him to the ski area where a helicopter was waiting. We revised our first aid kit after that.
  5. Create Multiple Kits – My family has three kits:
    • The Camping Kit – A plastic crate, contents inventoried, that goes with us camping. It serves as the “store” when we run out of things in the other two kits.
    • The Car Kit –  a large Husky Red and Black tool bag, contains items we’d use if we came upon an accident: Sam Splints, a disposable cloth litter, sanitary napkins for copious bleeds, Israeli compress bandages for severe bleeds, tourniquet, assortment of bandages and gauze, tarp, kneeling pad.
    • The Home Kit – The “boo-boo bag” hangs on the bathroom door. It’s a small Husky tool bag with band aids, gauze, roller tape, Israeli compression bandage, Neosporin and plantain powder as well as arnica gel, tick-removing instruments, and a digital thermometer. This is easy to grab and take to the “victim.” It gets the most use and is constantly refilled.

First-Aid Training

Take some training to go with the supplies.

  1. Basic First Aid – I took a basic first aid class every other year when I was teaching. Be careful and do your research – there are several places offering First Aid – the prices range from $75 to $150. Sometimes the equipment is cared-for and usable, sometimes it is not. Several American Red Cross classes are offered through the City of Corvallis Parks and Recreation.
  2. Wilderness First Aid – I need to retake the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) wilderness first aid class. It’s 16 hours, usually a weekend. In it you learn what to do when help is hours away. For rural living and for disaster/events preparation, it makes sense. It’s a lot of hands-on practice and is outdoors, so it is “real.” I learned to make a cervical collar out of the “survivor’s” clothing so it fits them! There is a lot of response from those you “save,” so the learning is double-barreled. I do mine through REI. For REI members the class runs $245.00. They keep you in the loop with monthly newsletters which always have an “emergency situation” you practice on and keep your knowledge current.
  3. Stop the Bleed – Once they start up again, I highly recommend Stop the Bleed (STB) taught by Corvallis Fire Department and Good Samaritan Hospital. Lebanon taught STB classes prior to COVID-19. I called the hospital in Lebanon and they told me to call back this time next month (September 2021) and they would have more information for me. Since it is such an active fire season, many first aid classes aren’t being offered. The closest WFA classes are this fall in Champoeg. Learn how and when to use a tourniquet. It does not take long to bleed out if it is a severe injury or amputation.

Emergency Mobile Apps

You can install several emergency apps on your phone for reference. Most are free. Look for American Red Cross – First AidPet First Aid, CPR and First Aid, Mental Health First Aid, Earthquakes, Floods and Emergency Alerts.Keep preparing this week! We are making headway – right ??