Hiker loses hand starting fire on AT

Discussion in 'Sandcut Outdoors' started by Sandcut, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    I'm throwing this article out as a cautionary tale. There's so much that can be taken away from this event as it pertains to the importance of learning good skills and techniques prior to extending yourself beyond your base of experience when spending time outdoors. This is true for fire making, cold weather camping and especially for first aid training.

    Feel free to discuss, but let's keep the comments about the victim civil. This is an unfortunate event, quite likely from someone lacking much experience.

    http://www.readingeagle.com/news/ar...hian-trail-in-berks-county&template=mobileart


    This will be a discussion in next week's Wilderness and Remote First Aid class.
     
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  2. Red Wing

    Red Wing Supporter Supporter

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    that's too bad, that was pretty avoidable. hope he recovers fast and well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
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  3. Badey

    Badey Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    I wonder if alcohol was involved.
     
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  4. hlydon

    hlydon Scout

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    Definitely avoidable.

    Why did he have black powder with him? Why would he try to light a fire with it? Why was he alone in blizzard level snow? Sounds like he wasn't very experienced and didn't plan well. Lucky he was close to such qualified rescuers.
     
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  5. andy.t

    andy.t Guide Vendor

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    A kid did a similar thing back when I was in Scouts. He threw a handful of black powder into an already burning fire and badly scorched his hand.

    There have been a number of survival shows where the "expert" used gunpowder to start fires in one way or another. I wonder what this guy thought he knew about the technique he was trying to use.

    Very fortunate that his phone had service. I hope he recovers well.
     
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  6. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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    Black powder burns all at once not the snakey little fizzle you see in the cowboy movies. This guy was really lucky to have only lost a hand. He must have been pretty desperate to get a fire going if he was using black powder to get it going. He may have been hypothermic and not thinking straight.
     
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  7. Guillaume Longval

    Guillaume Longval Scout

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    Ouch!

    Prayers sent !

    At least he did not loose his life. A good reminder to be aware of your skills and test them first in a controled area, close to home or help.
     
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  8. City Bushcrafter

    City Bushcrafter BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    Hawk mountain shelter is only 8 miles into the trail if hiking north. The shelter is packed with hikers this time a year. Most will be in their sleeping bags as soon as it gets dark. It's very odd that this guy was starting a fire at 10 pm, and with gun powder.

    This shelter is a double decker.

    image.jpeg
     
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  9. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Chaotic Neutral. Supporter Bushclass I

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    I would be interested to know the total cost of the rescue operation.
     
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  10. Hoof

    Hoof Guide

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    I hope recovery goes well. He has some 'splaining to do
     
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  11. steene

    steene Scout

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    One too many episodes of Mick Dodge watched.
     
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  12. slysir

    slysir Scout

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    This^^^

    Was he hiking with the intent to do some muzzleloading hunting?? If not, he must have intended for it to be an accelerator for fire prep...anyone who shoots with the stuff, as I do, certainly knows of it's qualities.

    -John
     
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  13. FreudianSlip

    FreudianSlip Scout

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    Not all that surprising as I have seen on tv and read in books people using gun powder from ammunition in an emergency to start a fire. Sounds like he went overboard
     
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  14. slysir

    slysir Scout

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    Smokeless powder from loaded cartridges is NOT THE SAME!!

    -John
     
  15. Hoof

    Hoof Guide

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    Maybe he had a small container or tin of powder in his hand and attempted to shake a little onto an inadequate flame or ember. I've seen guys do this with fuels before and get surprising results. They thought they knew what they were doing
     
  16. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Way back when I was a little kid, 10 maybe, I threw a little bit in a campfire, out of my hand. Just Being a kid. Maybe a spoonful or so, and I didnt put my hand down that close. It burned a pretty big blister that peeled off the whole outside edge of my little finger. Made an impression on me.
    Hope this guy gets along ok with his recovery.
     
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  17. MudButt

    MudButt Tracker

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    Probably just watched the The Revenant, then went to the wilds to be a mountain man.
     
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  18. injun51

    injun51 Guide

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    I honestly don't even know what to say about this. Unbelievably confounding.
     
  19. alukban

    alukban Guide

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    +1
     
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  20. Seacapt.

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    Sad outcome but crazy idea in the first place, apparently he didn't have enough black powder left over to cauterize his stump like I saw Daniel Boon do to a gunshot wound on his Indian friend Mingo once.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
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  21. Strngwlkr

    Strngwlkr Supporter Supporter

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    ......But I saw this guy on TV and YouTube doing it!
     
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  22. Longbeard

    Longbeard Continental Drifter Bushclass III

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    Unfortunately, the AT and some of the other trails attract a few who are woefully ignorant of what awaits them. I actually met a couple who told me they had never gone camping before in their lives before they set out to hike 2000+ miles!
     
  23. Tatonka

    Tatonka Young Brave Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    This can't be right. I saw Rambo put gunpowder on an entry an exit wound and the fire burnt all the way through and saved his life. If this were true, Rambo would have been disembowled. Come on guys, Hollywood is a reliable source of info on this.:54:
     
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  24. Nakadnu

    Nakadnu OBSERVER Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I did not see in this article enough detail to know how this happened.
    I have burned a lot of blackpowder in my day and not just in guns.
    Perhaps he was pouring it from a container onto an ember he didn't know was there or used the whole flask at once.
    I for one would be very interested to hear the whole story.
     
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  25. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    Why is it people exempt them selves form the safety precautions printed all over the place ?
    What I think happens to many folk is that they never played with the stuff as a kid, and have no idea what it is till it'a too late.
    As kids we played with all kinds of stuff like that, and learned how aggressive it is .
    Why do you suppose it goes bang ?
    The article was interesting for the several different means they used to transport the victim , I'd a made him walk . LOL
    Wait till he get's the bill.
    Hopefully a few people reading the article will put this in memory and avoid the stupidity for them selves.

    or not.
     
  26. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    OK. You've all had time to ruminate over this for a day and I've finally returned home and my belly is full of really good pizza (screw the arthritis!) and I'm enjoying a hot bath and the sound of the wind outside my house. So here's my thoughts on the on the whole event, for whatever value it may have.

    On fire: there are so many different ways to start a fire in rough environmental conditions (there was 18" of new snow on the ground at the site of the injury, so it would be tough to get a fire lit, even for the best of us) that do not use accelerants like gasoline or black powder or even potassium permanganate. That's one of the main reasons that we do trip reports to share our common experience, and especially mistakes and failures so that others may learn from them. I think @arleigh hit the percussion primer on the head with his assessment. Many people never did this stuff as kids, therefore they are often acting with the same level of ignorance as children while they are adults. Kids just usually admit their limits and fear and are , sometimes, more cautious.

    I say this having given myself partial thickness burns over about 30% of the back of one hand while in 7th grade. And I was using black powder. Fortunately, mine was not contained, so it flashed, not exploded. I inagine what happened is that the victim was having difficulty keeping the fire lit and decided to pour BP onto some coals or lingering flame, this powder flashed and touched off the container in his hand, which exploded due to being contained in a container and his hand. I don't know this, but as Dr. Spock would say, "It's highly logical."

    One thing to keep in mind on an injury like this that may not be apparent to some folks, not only would his hand be injured, but he .could very easily injured his lungs. When I skillfully got my pile of BP to light, so many moons ago, I remember reflexively gasping at the flash and inhaling a large amount of smoke. Again, fortunately for me, I didn't inhale any scalding hot gases. I inhaled cool smoke, coughed a bit, then was fine. Even as a dumbass tug grader I understood how lucky I was not to haveburned my lung tissue without anyone even telling me. The reason that I bring this up is so, in the event that any of you witness something similar, make sure you monitor the victim's breathing and airway. Lung tissue may be the only thing that they burn and it may not be readily apparent until they start to go downhill quickly. Know CPR, think of how you would evacuate the person, and if possible, stop the burning and cool the burn quickly (don't use snow unless it's all you have).

    Aside from the fire making skills, the choice to begin a 600 mile leg of the AT going SOUTH from freshly fallen 18" of snow leads me to also question the victim's knowledge base and/or the victim's overconfidence in his skills. I believe that that portion of the AT is also referred to as "Rocksylvania" if I'm not mistaken, and for good reason. It is a difficult hike without a foot and a half of snow.

    Which gets in to evacuation: It took responders 25 minutes just to reach the victim, some amount of time on scene getting control of the situation, then 45 more minutes to get him down to an ambulance. They carried him aboit 1/3 of the half mile distance in a Stokes basket, then someone met them with an inflatable boat, which they put the basket on and sledded down. They then had to drive to a waiting ambulance to be taken to a Lifeflight helicopter. Accident to hospital was very likely over 3 hours. When people think of Wilderness First Aid they often think of mountains and far away places. One of the praises that I can sing for the Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid classes that I teach is that ARC stresses the Remote aspect (meaning greater than 30 minutes from emergency medical care). You don't need to be climbing K2 to need this class. You only need to live more than 15 miles from town.

    On kit: The use of combat tourniquets has been incorporated into basic level first aid. It's dirt simple to use and quite literally vital if needed. They are affordable, light, small and effective. Consider adding one or more to your kit. We went to the Scranton St. Paddy's parade (a heck of a shindig!) last weekend. Call me paranoid, but after the Boston Marathon bombing, I carry 2 or 3 in my daypack, just in case. I shouldn't ever need that. But I believed the same thing about the fire extinguisher in my house, right up to the moment that I had to use it.

    Consider getting some additional first aid training. If not from me, then from someone reputable (NOLS, SOLO, WIMS, ASHI, ARC, etc.) I can no longer count how many times that I've used this knowldedge just in my family since I first got training in 1999. Best money you'll ever spend!

    That's all I got. The family got home and they're trying to talk to me. This is not conducive to being insightful. Plus, I'm getting pruney. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  27. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    thanks, cut ...
     

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