Those of us who have responded to overhead announcements for a doctor on the plane or tended to an ailing friend on the hiking trail know that medical care is rarely limited to the 4 walls of the office. A safety pin is recommended by wilderness medicine texts as one of the most useful tools for your first aid kit.1 Its many uses include removal of foreign bodies from the skin or cornea; drainage of abscesses, blisters, subungual hematomas, and thrombosed hemorrhoids; skin testing; holding gaping wounds together; splinting a mallet finger; fashioning a sling for shoulder and arm injuries; removal of ticks; puncture of plastic bags for irrigation of wounds; and pinning the tongue to the lower lip of an unconscious victim to establish a patent airway.
—Nathan Hitzeman, MD
1. Auerbach P. Wilderness Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Mosby; 2007.