Beach Day Three-way First Aid Fail

My brother is visiting from California with my niece this week. He lives in the high desert in the Owen’s Valley, but he frequently visits the in-laws in Newport Beach, and he suffers from the misapprehension that beaches are inviting places with soft sand and warm waves. We fixed that with a visit to a real Connecticut beach.

Tucked behind the protection of Long Island, beaches in Connecticut generally suck. I’m not clear on the hydrodynamic and geological forces, but my perception is that Long Island is basically the leading edge of all the crap pushed down from the Arctic by the last glacier, and when it melted it formed a big stone wall in the ocean. All those rocks have been being pushed onto Connecticut’s shore over the last 10,000 years or so, so our beaches are primarily rounded pebbles. And barnacles and crabs and broken glass and construction debris like bricks that have been dumped into Long Island Sound over the centuries.

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Shell dune at high tide line. Sharp, broken shells literally three feet deep and 10 feet wide.

And shells – don’t forget shells. Seagulls gotta eat, and when they’re finished eating the gooey bits out of mollusks that they crack open by dropping them onto the rocks, they rarely tidy up after themselves. And so we end up with huge piles of broken, jagged shells where normal beaches have soft sand. Just one more reason to GTFO.

Unfortunately, the sharp pointies aren’t all limited to the beach, and there are plenty of hazards lurking beneath the murky waters of Long Island Sound. And so last night, my son Groot managed to find one with his foot. He put a small gash in his big toe, right at the bendy part where it attaches to the sole of his foot. He hobbled out of the water and up to our spot on the boardwalk – can’t sit on the sand, after all – and I took a look at it.

First thing I was glad to see was that it didn’t need stitches, or even a butterfly closure. It was pretty shallow, and wasn’t even bleeding that much, so it just needed a clean out and a band aid. I’ll just run out to the parking lot and get the first aid kit out of the – oh, wait. We took the new Sequoia. And I haven’t put a first aid kit in it yet. Crap.

You’ll recall that the previous family truckster, Mrs. P’s beloved 4Runner, has a very complete first aid kit in it. Fat lot of good it did me last night. All I had in the Sequoia was a blow-out kit, and while a tourniquet certainly would have done the job, it was probably overkill. Luckily, my mom had a few band aids in her purse, and we had a roll of paper towels for our picnic dinner. We didn’t have any triple antibiotic ointment, though, but we did have hand sanitizer, and shortly after its application we had a string of barely suppressed obscenities floating through the sultry evening air. Being in such a bendy spot, and with damp salty skin, I didn’t hold much hope that the band aid would stick, but Mrs. P had brought some waterproof tape in case we needed it for Ginger’s glucose monitor sensor, and it did the job even when Groot went back in the water. Good stuff to stock.

So we managed to cobble a dressing together, but it really shouldn’t have been an “Oh, crap!” moment. I should have been able to grab an effective and well-stocked kit and applied antiseptic and a decent dressing within a few minutes without even thinking about it. Rest assured that I’ll be fixing that before we take our next ride in the Sequoia.

But here’s what makes it worse: in the heat of the moment, I forgot that I had put my Get Home Bag in the Sequoia. When we got back after the picnic, I saw it in the back and had to give myself a dope slap for fixating on the fact that we didn’t have the big FAK from the 4Runner. But even still, if I had remembered the GHB, I would have been disappointed by the third fail of the evening – I had removed the small FAK from the bag for some reason, and it was sitting on my gun safe at home. WTF?

Clearly a total tear down and assessment of all the gear in our vehicles needs to be undertaken. Every car needs to have a minimum complement of gear – simple tools, get-home supplies, decent FAK, good BOK for the big traumas, and enough outdoor supplies (bug spray, sunscreen, toilet paper, etc.) so that a little impromptu hike or picnic isn’t ruined.

Yeah, sure, fail early and fail often is my mantra, but really? Three first aid fails in the span of an hour? Shameful.

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