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Altezza Travel's First Aid Kits

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When it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro, safety is paramount. Altezza Travel, with our extensive experience in the mountain industry, goes above and beyond to ensure the well-being of every climber. In this article, we take a closer look at the mountain first aid kits that accompany every expedition, revealing the meticulous preparations, safety protocols, and expertise of the rescue guides that make Altezza Travel a leader in expedition safety.

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Safety on Kilimanjaro. Altezza Travel expeditions

When you embark on a Kilimanjaro expedition with Altezza Travel, you can rest assured about your safety. Our company, with nearly a decade of experience in the mountain industry, has developed optimal procedures for dealing with climbers of all ages and health conditions, including those with special needs. In all this time, we haven’t had a single serious emergency. This statistic is especially impressive given the as the largest operator on Kilimanjaro. For emergencies, we have special protocols in place that our mountain team can act upon at a moment's notice, helping prevent severe harm to expedition members. Our guides know exactly what to do if altitude sickness worsens, if on-site first aid is required, or if an urgent evacuation becomes necessary.

At Altezza Travel, we employ licensed mountain guides who are trained in mountain medicine and hold Wilderness First Responder certifications, verifying their ability to provide first aid in the wild. We give great emphasis to safety, making it a cornerstone of our mountain climbing company. All our guides regularly undergo first aid training in various situations and take tests to ensure their knowledge and practical skills are up-to-date.

One of Altezza Travel's strict rules is that every mountain team must have oxygen systems on hand before heading off on an expedition, as well as freshly stocked and checked first aid kits.

Altezza Travel Kilimanjaro First Aid Kits

In our company's mountain department, we have a dedicated position held by a medical specialist. This person is responsible for ensuring the availability of all necessary medications, assembling the first aid kits, and managing the oxygen systems that are used during ascents when needed.

Several days before the group's departure to the mountains, each first aid kit is thoroughly checked, restocked according to a medical checklist, and securely sealed. The responsible individual's tasks include not only verifying the presence of all required medications from the list but also assembling the appropriate quantities based on the number of expedition participants and checking the expiration dates of each medication.

Contents of the First Aid Kits

In our expeditions, guides carry two types of first aid kits: camping and tactical. The camping kit remains in the camp and is used during daily morning and evening medical check-ups, as well as serving as a backup for the small tactical kit. It functions as a sort of portable medical office and pharmacy, containing a large variety of medications and equipment. The large camping kit is shared among the entire group, including members of the mountain team (porters, guides, cooks, etc.), whose health we also closely monitor.

The tactical first aid kit is always carried by every guide. It has a smaller capacity and a variety of medications that might be necessary during emergencies. During hikes between camps, each guide has everything they need at hand to provide medical assistance or first aid.

Let's take a look inside the Altezza Travel first aid kits and see what our guides are always prepared for during ascents.

Camping First Aid Kit - extensive and stationery

The Altezza Travel camping first aid kit always contains everything necessary for addressing injuries or sudden health problems, enabling the guides to provide urgent medical assistance. It also includes medications related to altitude-related conditions and all equipment related to oxygen systems

Here's what the kit contains: tourniquet for stopping bleeding, medical tactical scissors for cutting clothing, gloves and Esmarch scissors for cutting bandages, hemostatic dressing for healing superficial bleeding wounds, sterile gauze pads and bandages, a set of cotton swabs, disinfectant swabs, adhesive tape for fixation, elastic bandage for immobilization, medical splint, hydrogen peroxide as an antiseptic for wounds, a set of bactericidal adhesive plasters, iodine solution, a sphygmomanometer for measuring blood pressure, moleskins (medical adhesive padding) to protect the feet from friction.

In addition to these first aid provisions, our large kit always includes the following:

  • pulse oximeters for measuring blood oxygen saturation
  • a stethoscope for listening to internal sounds of the human body
  • oxygen cylinders for additional oxygen supply in case of signs of hypoxemia
  • Ambu bag for artificial lung ventilation
  • a cough syrup, which, by the way, often receives positive feedback from our clients for its taste
  • throat lozenges

Moreover, to address the risks associated with high-altitude pulmonary or cerebral edema, we always include the following medications in our first aid kit, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States:

  • nifedipine
  • dexamethasone
  • acetazolamide (Diamox)

Nifedipine is used for the treatment of high-altitude pulmonary edema, dexamethasone for the treatment of high-altitude cerebral edema and other manifestations of acute mountain sickness, and acetazolamide for the treatment of mountain sickness as well as an addition to dexamethasone in treating high-altitude cerebral edema.

For more details on how we handle acute mountain sickness symptoms, you can read our article on how to prepare for high-altitude trekking. There, we provide a comprehensive description of all stages and manifestations of altitude sickness

Based on our nearly 10 years of experience organizing expeditions to Mount Kilimanjaro, we typically recommend that all our climbers take acetazolamide (Diamox) as a preventive measure. It is better to take it in advance in a small dose to eliminate the already low possibility of an allergic reaction to sulfonamide components. You can find everything about acetazolamide (Diamox) in the article "Diamox in the Mountains." We strongly recommend reading it if you are planning an expedition to Africa's highest mountain.

The kit also includes general-purpose medications such as loratadine for allergies, ibuprofen as a pain reliever and fever reducer, paracetamol as its alternative, corvalol as a sedative, doxycycline as an antibiotic for preventing Lyme disease in case of tick exposure, eye drops for relieving dryness and irritation, anti-inflammatory ear drops, as well as nasal drops for relieving nasal congestion and inflammation, anti-inflammatory cream for external use, and antimicrobial cream for skin application. A thermometer is available to measure body temperature

To aid the stomach, we have the following medications:

  • loperamide (Imodium) as an antidiarrheal
  • oral rehydration salts for fluid replenishment, counteracting dehydration
  • antacid (ENO) to stabilize gastrointestinal function in case of stomach heaviness, nausea, heartburn, bloating, and other symptoms of digestive problems

In addition to everything listed, the Altezza Travel camping first aid kit includes a rescue blanket, a glucose supply for additional carbohydrates, water disinfection supplies, captopril for blood pressure reduction, an EpiPen for rapid administration of adrenaline in case of anaphylaxis, and female hygiene pads.

Our camping medical kit checklist consists of 52 items. The quantity of individual items and medications depends on the number of people in the expedition group.

Tactical kit - essential first-aid medications and equipment

The small kit is always readily available, even during long transitions between camps or when pushing for the summit far from base camps. Here's what the tactical first aid kit contains for emergency first aid: gloves, a tourniquet, gauze dressings, sterile gauze pads, medical tactical scissors for cutting clothing, hemostatic dressing for healing superficial bleeding wounds, hydrogen peroxide, a medical splint, and nitroglycerin for relieving symptoms of angina, among other items listed below.

The kit for addressing problems with breathing and oxygenation of the blood includes oxygen cylinders and related equipment, an Ambu bag for artificial lung ventilation, an inhaler, and throat lozenges.

To prevent or aid with high-altitude pulmonary and cerebral edema, the following are available and can be used:

  • Nifedipine
  • Dexamethasone

For pain relief and fever reduction, the guide can always offer:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Paracetamol

Loperamide, which is also included in each guide's small kit, can help alleviate stomach problems that occasionally occur at high altitudes. Don't hesitate to ask for it when needed.

Each tactical first aid kit also contains corvalol, doxycycline as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, an adrenaline auto-injector for anaphylactic shock, an anti-inflammatory cream for external use, and a rescue blanket in case of hypothermia

Each tactical kit contains 27 items.

As you can see, we have thought of everything. Our preparation is based on our own extensive experience organizing expeditions to the African peak standing nearly 6000 meters or 20,000 feet high and careful observations of other companies and expeditions that made mistakes. Our high success rate, independent company ratings, and hundreds of very positive reviews from people all over the world serve as strong evidence of our professionalism and responsible approach to mountain expeditions.

Unforeseen situations rarely occur in the mountains with Altezza Travel, and our clients seldom encounter serious health problems during their ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro. We attribute this to the high level of our preparation, the experience of our guides and mountain teams, and the seriousness with which we approach the medical support of each expedition. Currently, there are no other tour operators on Mount Kilimanjaro who have first aid kits of the same standard as ours.

We believe that our approach is the key to the safety and well-being of our clients during expeditions. We simply prevent accidents and the development of discomfort among climbers through the comprehensive medical procedures and services that have become our standard.

From our side, we ask everyone who is planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with us to take responsibility for their own health. Even the most well-equipped first aid kit and oxygen systems cannot guarantee the absence of problems during the expedition. Sometimes, the only way to avoid danger is to descend the mountain. We can only guarantee that we will do everything possible for your successful summit, but it is essential to be aware that high-altitude mountains are inherently challenging environments, especially if you go higher than 4000 meters (13,100 feet) above sea level. You should never push for the summit if your well-being is compromised. We hope that, just like us, you will approach your health responsibly.

Nevertheless, rest assured that by embarking on a Kilimanjaro hike and choosing Altezza Travel as the organizer of your expedition, you entrust your life and health to true professionals, and minimize all possible risks.

Published on 3 November 2023 Revised on 18 May 2024
About this article
Thomas Becker
Expert Articles: 15
Written byThomas Becker
Travel Expert Tanzania
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In 2013, Thomas Becker relocated from Germany to Tanzania, captivated by the country's charm. He explored various regions, immersing himself in local culture, traditions, geography, and wildlife. He personally successfully ascended Kilimanjaro’s highest point - Uhuru Peak.

Prior to joining Altezza in 2023, Thomas held the role of general manager at several lodges, including Kaliwa Lodge. At Altezza Travel, he oversees the operational facets of all expeditions and manages our mountain team of over 1700 members, the largest in the region

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1 Comment
Altezza Travel
Benjamin C
13 Mar 2024
How often are these first aid kits updated or replenished? Thanks.
Altezza Travel
Altezza Travel
13 Mar 2024

We unpack them after each expedition and then put the kits together again. That happens weekly. At that time, we check the expiration dates and make that every medication is present.

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