Injuries in remote settings like a wilderness trail or survival homestead pose challenges to the medic not experienced in long-term wound care. Ordinarily, a system exists to evacuate victims of such injuries to modern medical facilities. In situations where that option doesn’t exist for the foreseeable future, however, the average person may be medically responsible from the point of injury to full recovery.
This is a novel (and sobering) thought for most, and the tools needed to provide regular wound care and the medications to prevent and treat infection may not be at hand. For this reason, I have spent years writing articles on the importance of antibiotics as part of a prepared individual’s medical supplies.
Although I’ve written extensively on antibiotics in survival settings, I’ve written less on wound debridement. Originating from the French “desbrider (to unbridle), debridement is the act of removing dead or foreign material in and around a wound.
Debridement was likely first discovered to be a useful medical tool in wartime, where grossly contaminated wounds were common. The horrific wounds incurred in armed conflict seemed to do better if damaged and dead tissue was aggressively removed. This tissue may be on the edges or throughout the injury. It usually appears discolored, often blackish with a foul odor, although it could also appear white.
By removing dead tissue that, by definition, will not heal, you eventually reach a level where live tissue exists. After debridement, the remaining tissue can recover in a cleaner environment or might, in certain circumstances, be a candidate for wound closure.