Your Gear Is Not Complete
Without An Emergency Packet

Be Prepared

Regular readers of this column know that I have stressed safety and preparedness several times. There’s good reason for that. When you’re off-road, especially several hours away from critical care, you have to be able to handle emergencies that may occur.

Previously I’ve touched on first aid kits and other gear. This time I’d like to cover another very important item, an emergency packet. As the name suggests, this is a packet of valuable information kept at your fingertips just in case something happens.

Emergencies are stressful situations. Common details like home phone numbers can be difficult to recall. An emergency packet becomes your “go to” source during difficult times.

If you are within cell range (or have a satellite phone) and have an emergency, by all means call 911. Not all situations are medical emergencies, of course. Your emergency packet contains other vital information that can help get you and your group out of a jam.

Emergency Packet

At a minimum the packet should contain the following information. Please note that certain details will change as you visit different areas.
  • A page of emergency numbers
  • Map(s) and directions to nearby hospitals, with phone numbers
  • Assessment forms for injuries and illness
  • First Aid & CPR booklets
  • Evacuation plans, including instructions regarding when and whether to transport out or call for evacuation
  • A page on vehicle recovery (safety reminders, planning steps)
Some phone numbers to list include:
  • Local sheriff’s department / police department
  • Park ranger of the recreation area you will be visiting
  • Federal Interagency at 909-383-5651. This is helpful if you’re on federal lands, such as Death Valley and Mojave Desert. It’s a central dispatch center. They’ll route your call accordingly.
  • Poison Control at 800-222-1222
Ham radio operators should retain a list of area 2 m and 70 cm repeater frequencies (and CTCSS tones), as well as the national calling frequencies (146.520 MHz and 446.000 MHz). Remember that those are simplex frequencies, so program your radio accordingly.

In addition to the contact information for area hospitals, I suggest developing a map showing possible route(s). Provide clear instructions on the map as well, so drivers don’t have to rely entirely on the lines or highlighter markings you’ve made. Review the area carefully, and note that there may be more than one hospital within range depending on where you are in your route.

Make several copies of these maps. The driver transporting someone out gets a copy, of course. But if you need to evac someone, family members can be given a map to help them find the hospital.

Speaking of transporting, make sure to send at least two vehicles. The additional vehicles act a backup, to make sure you’ll be able to get the person out (or at least send out a messenger). Not all transports need to get to the highway, either. I tell drivers to continue trying the phone until they make contact with emergency responders. They may be able to meet the driver part way, thereby saving valuable time.

As I said, if you’re able to place a call, dial 911. If you’re not, you’ll need to decide whether to transport the person, or send other drivers out to get help. Start with an assessment of the person’s injuries or illness. That’s why I suggest including an assessment checklist or SOAP Note (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan) Tear sheets in the emergency packet. Once you understand what you’re dealing with, you can apply necessary first aid, and you’re in a better position to identify the resources you require.

Soap Notes=
The assessment forms and the SOAP Note Tear Sheets are available from a variety of online sources. Buy enough copies for your first aid kit, glove compartment, and go bag.
Any of the First Aid booklets from EMS Safety Services contains an assessment form that can be pulled out and copied. Here is the link.

It would be a good idea to carry one of these booklets in the packet as well as one in your first aid kit. The books are slim (44 pages) and only $4.50.

You can order a booklet of Soap Notes Tear Sheets from Wilderness Medical Associates at https://www.wildmed.com/blog/gear-store/soap-notes/
The cost is $5.95 for a book of about 8 sheets. The book can be split up (or order multiple booklets) to put several sheets each in the emergency packet and in your first aid kit.

Wilderness Medical Associates also has a great First Aid Field Guide for $21.95. https://www.wildmed.com/blog/gear-store/the-field-guide-of-wilderness-rescue-medicine/

Carry this one in your pocket !

As you can see, a emergency packet is an extremely important part of your “gear.” Spend a few moments developing one before your next off-road excursion. It could prove to be a life-saver.

Related Articles at Badlands Off-Road Adventures


Winching & Recovery on YouTube


Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc. now has its own 4x4 training channel on YouTube. We recently cleaned up 15 chapters on Winching and recovery Techniques plus two bonus chapters to take advantage of new higher quality resolution available on YouTube.

I recently received this comment from

Floyd L. Jennings of Houston, TX

"I had opportunity to review your sequence of brief training videos viz. using a winch and wanted to say the following:
  1. Thanks for making them available on the net;
  2. You have an easy manner as a teacher that is very engaging and is absent of the arrogance that is all too common among others;
  3. Even old-timers like me can and do learn by watching a refresher….especially as this is not my business and there is little opportunity for repetition as a learning tool."

You can access the YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/4x4Training.

We have a high quality DVD available for $15.00. Call if you want to purchase one.


Tierra Del Sol (TDS)


Come and visit us at TDS this year. The event is the first weekend in March. The main day is Saturday March 6th. We will have a booth in the vendor area.

There are more details on the TDS web site and you can sign up for the trail and a raffle ticket. http://www.tds4x4.com/


Death Valley

Death Valley

The Death Valley Adventure Starts March 19th. This is a 4 day trip on the back roads in Death Valley. We will drive the Panamint Mountains, visit Badwater Basin (lowest spot in North America), visit Chloride Ghost town, Titus Canyon, check out Ubehebe Crater, Teakettle junction, The Race Track & Lippencott Mine Road, camp in the Warm Springs and leave via Steal Pass up to the high meadows, then take Dedeckera Canyon down to the Eureka Sand Dunes. We might encounter wild flowers. All four days will see some light to moderate 4-wheeling. Check out the details and sign up on the website: http://www.4x4training.com/Adventures/Deathvalley.html

You can register directly at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Deathvalley


Mojave Road Adventure April 17

Mojave Desert

On April 17th we take off from the Colorado River to follow the Old Mojave Road for 3 days. This was the earliest wagon road into California. Again we might see wild flowers but for sure we will visit tons of history and see some incredible views. More Details

You can register directly at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Mojave


Rubicon Trail August 16


Time to sign up and start getting ready for the Rubicon trail. The Rubicon Trails is the stuff of legends. It is considered the Grand Daddy of trails. If your vehicle has a weakness, it will find it. Any serious four-wheeler needs to "Do the Con" at least once. There is no guarantee of avoiding vehicle damage. Even the most skilled driver can succumb to the fatigue of 12 unrelenting miles of rocks. Just bring a good altitude and the best prepared vehicle you can. This could be a once in a lifetime trip but a lifelong of bragging rights. For more details.

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rubicon

I hope to see you on the trails!

Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Make it Safe.


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Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2009, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

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